The Religion of Retreat

Transportation Union And Rideshare Drivers United Members Hold Rolling Vehicle Protest Calling On State To Enforce AB5

We are roughly two months into Coronamania, and it seems already a new local legend has been born. We’ve all seen him at this point. He’s your coworker, your neighbor, maybe he’s even your cousin. He’s the middle aged man driving in his car alone with a mask on. All joking aside, I’ve seen dozens of people doing this over the past few weeks, and it got me thinking. Why? While I like to think I’ve taken the virus fairly seriously and acted responsibly, I fail to understand the mindset of the most ardent faction of quarantiners.

Much like radical climate change fanaticism, the most extreme prognosticators of social distancing seem to have adopted the practice as a religion, complete with the system of rewards and guilts that accompany most religious systems. While I admittedly abide on the more relaxed end of the social distancing spectrum, my curiosity drives me to examine the thought processes and motives of this group. Broad generalizations are rarely accurate to the whole, and I’m certain the motivations are numerous and disparate. Some are no doubt motivated by fear, while some others are acting out of the goodness of their hearts and a desire to protect those most vulnerable. Some, particularly those who assign religious status to the practice, may do it for glowing social media posts and virtue signaling to their peers.

The aforementioned motivations are fine and harmless, and each person is within his/her rights to act on them freely. Sadly, I think there is a small but very real minority who have different motivations in this. Is it possible that some radicalized citizens and maybe even government officials are enjoying the unprecedented exercise of government authority and the shaming of those people, particularly rural southerners, who don’t abide by Big Brother’s rules as stringently as they do? Are some people happy that capitalists who’ve worked their entire lives for financial independence are now on a “level playing field,” depending on the government like millions of other Americans at this time? History would say yes.

During the great Red Scare of the 1950s, we saw Americans reporting on Americans to their government, suspicious of their friends and neighbors in a time of heightened fear. The great Arthur Miller compared them to the judges at the Salem Witch Trials. Those same personalities exist today, and they relish the opportunity to turn in business owners and citizens who are just trying to make a living for the same reasons John Proctor was hanged for witchcraft. Unchecked fear is corrosive to the bonds of society.

To some this isn’t so far from their ideal version of America, where the government is intimately involved in the day to day affairs of capitalists, regulating and restricting everything down to the type of soap available in the bathroom. They want everyone dependent on monthly stimulus checks, as federal power expands and individual liberty contracts.

On Monday, we observe Memorial Day and honor the fallen. From Bunker Hill, to Shiloh, to Flanders field, to Normandy, to Baghdad the blood of American patriots has been shed to water the Tree of Liberty. When confronted with a crisis, they did not let fear get the best of them, they did not retreat. They charged ahead, united under one banner, to advance the cause of freedom in the world. What would they think of our response to this virus, of the heirs to that freedom living today? Have we guarded that torch of liberty as vigilantly as they during this time of fear and crisis? What would they make of government temporarily shuttering churches to little resistance from its citizens? The question is not whether or not these government actions prevented the spread of infection, as they certainly did. The question is are we okay with a government that has the authority to do what we have allowed ours to do over the past eight weeks?

During the Cold War, there was a prominent segment of society that called for peace at any price. They adopted the slogan, “Better Red than Dead.” Opposite them, were lovers of liberty. Ronald Reagan spoke for this faction when he addressed the nation in his famous address, The Speech. 

“You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.”

This is America. We do not retreat. The virus has caused great uncertainty and unprecedented surrender, at times perhaps appropriately. But we have had time to gather our wits, look over our enemy, and regroup. Now is the time to press on, at work, in church, and in our communities, with the grit and fortitude that sustained us for centuries.

17 thoughts on “The Religion of Retreat

  1. You nailed it—those who love government control are all about us surrendering our freedoms. Good article written by a precocious young man. With his finger on the freedom trigger—fire away, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the mask wearing in cars is probably a misunderstanding of how the virus is spread. Knowledge about the nature of viruses is very low among the general public. My guess is that many think or fear that it’s just floating in the air potentially anywhere or that it actively seeks out humans like mosquitoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Could it be that “mask wearing in cars” is because the sort of mask pictured in the article is rather fragile and doesn’t hold up after more than a few cycles of removing and replacing?

      IMO, the unmasking crowd are whiners, not winners.

      Like

  3. “He’s the middle aged man driving in his car alone with a mask on.”

    Interesting remark; in my area, middle aged men, regardless of race, seem to be among the least supportive of the mask business. I wonder if this is linked to regional politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This religion you speak of has a name: The Cult of the Credentialed and Connected Omniscent.

    Is it possible that some radicalized citizens and maybe even government officials are enjoying the unprecedented exercise of government authority and the shaming of those people, particularly rural southerners, who don’t abide by Big Brother’s rules as stringently as they do?

    Yes, for it shows both the non-abiders, and their presently-abiding neighbors what they face if they do not SUBMIT to the One and Only True Way of the Cult.

    Are some people happy that capitalists who’ve worked their entire lives for financial independence are now on a “level playing field,” depending on the government like millions of other Americans at this time? History would say yes.

    And what these happy souls do not realize, is how vulnerable they have made themselves to the errors, greed, mendacity, and delusion of those “experts” and “leaders” they submit to in total trust.

    The more we ask government to do FOR us, the more opportunities we create activities those happy souls are unhappy about: crony capitalism, rent-seeking, empire-building and influence-peddling … and the more such a government can do TO us.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “From Bunker Hill, to Shiloh, to Flanders field, to Normandy, to Baghdad the blood of American patriots has been shed to water the Tree of Liberty. When confronted with a crisis, they did not let fear get the best of them, they did not retreat. They charged ahead, united under one banner…”

    Small error here, in the 1860-1865 war we fought under two different banners.

    Paul L. Quandt

    Like

  6. 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

    Luke 12:25-26

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Could simply be the guy is just too lazy to take off the mask when he gets in his car.

    Never attribute to fanaticism what can be attributed to laziness.🙂

    Like

  8. Maybe he’s a few minutes from home and he understands that unnecessarily handling his mask INCREASES opportunities for transmission and thus should be minimized? If that possibility never crossed your mind, perhaps you should reconsider your high-effing-horse?

    Like

    • No, handling his mask does NOT significantly increase the chance for transmission. Particularly since the mask is worn to prevent his own viral load from spreading to others, NOT primarily to prevent the virus from reaching him. Also, he’s taking the mask off by handling the ear- or head strings, and this is increasing the chance of transmission?

      Maybe you should reconsider the Holier Than Thou attitude, since you don’t seem to understand the hows and whys.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I think these masked-but-alone folks were at the grocery store, wearing a required mask, and then they forgot to take off the mask when they got back in the car. It has happened to me — and I usually remember to remove the mask after driving a block or two.

    Like

    • Some are. Many are not. (Since I see them driving down the highway on their way to work. Not a minute or two into their journey.)

      Like

  10. All true, but you underestimate the extent of what Rush Limbaugh calls “chickifcation”, one component of which holds that life must be completely risk free. That’s why this time is different and we have a population that is willing to submit to the current round of obscenities.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s