Freedom can mean different things to most people. For some, it means “financial” freedom, whereas one has enough money in the bank to be clear of debts and not require employment to survive. For others, it’s simply NOT being locked up or imprisoned. But in general, it means having the ability to act, speak or think without constraint. It’s being able to go where you want, when you want and do what you want. And I think that we can agree that the vast majority of people who live in North America have that freedom, to varying degrees.
I don’t think I really need to point out that 2020 has been an absolute shit show for the entire world. In fact, some would argue (myself included) that COVID-19 has acted as an ultimate equalizer, since the virus does not discriminate and can be contracted by anyone of any age, race or gender. But we’ve seen a wider variety of people catch the virus than we would have originally thought possible at the beginning, including politicians, celebrities and the elderly. And the effect is that many if not most people feel and are of the opinion that they are losing their freedoms.
It’s been an increasingly stressful time, especially for those who are separated from those they love. One good example is my mother, with whom I speak to on a weekly basis. Yes, yes, I’m a momma’s boy and call my mother often. I’m also an only child, and father to her only grandchildren. So keeping a positive connection is important, one way or another. My father currently resides in a nursing home, where he’s been for about ten years. He voluntarily placed himself there after it became clear that my mother didn’t have the physical capacity to take care of a 330-pound man in a wheelchair.
For the most part they’ve been able to make it work, with my mother renting a small bachelor’s apartment next door to the nursing home and being with him everyday. Then, along came COVID-19. My father’s nursing home has been locked down ever since, despite the fact that many others in the Province of New Brunswick have reopened their doors (intermittently, depending on the status of their cases). This is an affront to my mother, who compares my father’s residence at the home and her inability to see him to being locked up in a prison.
I may have a bit of a jaded and subjective point of view, but I don’t know many prisons that have hardwood floors, picture windows with a view of the bay and serve customized meals, three days a week. But that’s just me. The sick and elderly are among the most vulnerable, and the choice to keep the care home’s doors closed to the public is a clear result of not wanting to potentially spread the virus to every resident there. The irony is that my mother COULD visit my father. The care home is allowing immediate family to visit on an appointment basis, with restrictions in place allowing for no longer than thirty minutes and requiring social distancing during the visit.
One would think that this would be good news. I would consider it so, since I’m on the other side of the country and can’t see my parents regardless of conditions. But my mother refuses to visit my father in this fashion, feeling that they don’t pay the money that they do to be kept separated from one another. It doesn’t matter that no individual has the right to make the choice for other residents and potentially introduce the virus into their environment. She simply refuses to take advantage of what’s offered because it isn’t what she wants.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and I’m simply using them as the most familiar example I can use. But the point is that when this whole mess started, we all foolishly thought the world was grinding to a halt for 30 to 90 days and then things would go back to normal. Oh, how wrong we were! 9 months later, we’re still dealing with restrictions, imposed mandates and the constant yo-yoing on local and Federal governing agencies opening things up then taking them away again as soon as an outbreak happens.
What’s been the most disheartening, is people’s reaction to doing what’s necessary. A blanket attitude of basically not giving a shit has gripped society by the gonads and seems to be keeping a firm hold. People still balk at the very notion of wearing a face mask. I’ve fallen down many a YouTube hole where people have claimed and tried to get out of wearing masks in public places because of medical conditions, despite health professionals publicly declaring that the only conditions that would make wearing a mask impossible would be so severe that the patient wouldn’t be out and about. Customer limits and home school requirements, social distancing and the inevitable folding of privately owned businesses… I wasn’t kidding when I said that 2020 has been a shit show.
The problem is that people hate to be told what to do. You can take a family that’s financially poor, struggles to make rent and has to swallow their pride and accept charity, access food banks and hand-me-down clothing and they’ll do what’s necessary. But tell them they must lawfully wear a face mask while during their weekly Walmart run and all hell breaks loose. Like I said, COVID-19 has been, among other things, the great equalizer.
For my family, it hasn’t changed a great deal of much. My employer has had me at home for almost two years now and my wife works from home. The only significant change was this week, when my son began remote learning due to an outbreak in our local schools. My wife and I weren’t happy about the change, but we complied and adapted as it was necessary to continue my son’s education. But otherwise, the bills get paid, there’s food on the table and we’re taking advantage of being able to spend so much time together.
For those who chose to complain about the government, mask and isolation requirements, consider the following OBVIOUS facts: If this were all a conspiracy on behalf of the government, I’m sure they would chose a much better method of control than making someone wear a paper-thin mask on their face. Things may seem bleak now, but it will only be through the passing of this virus that any of us can hope to experience a normal life again. ☯
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