As Western countries around the world are struggling to react to the uncertainties caused by the coronavirus, a troublesome question resurfaces again and again — what’s more important, freedom or national safety? Or should it not even be a question?
A few weeks ago, some Americans staged protests against state governments regarding the quarantine. Some reporters question whether it is more about partisan ideology or economics. (Or maybe it’s just another excuse for liberal journalists to lash out against right-wingers.)
But does it even matter?
Really, what should a democratic nation do in times like these, situations in which actions will never be black and white? What do we choose to sacrifice? What do we value the most?
Some Asian countries, like Singapore and South Korea, for example, have responded to the virus by implementing strict tracking of their infected and those they have come in close contact with. It’s true that they have achieved significantly lower death rates while implementing minimal lockdown policies. Why require healthy people who haven’t been around coronavirus carriers to stay locked in their homes?
Some may ask, “But isn’t that invading people’s privacies?” Sure. However, it could loosen quarantine policies and avoid overflowing our hospitals (in a good way). In that case, the more important question we should be asking is, shouldn’t we value the lives of hundreds of people over individual liberties, or –
maybe not –
Big question mark. Let’s not forget that rights and lives both require some form of payment. After all, it’s the ultimate American question, rooted deeply into our culture. When our founding fathers so bravely signed the Declaration of Independence, they knew that the freedom they cherished would be hard-won, bitterly fought for and bought with the price of blood.
It’s been over two hundred years since then. Although the situation is drastically different, the price tag on American freedom remains. The question is, how much is it really worth?
Russonello, G. (2020, April 17). What’s Driving the Right-Wing Protesters Fighting the Quarantine? Retrieved April 17, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/us/politics/poll-watch-quarantine-protesters.html
Onishi, N. (2020, April 17). France Weighs Its Love of Liberty in Fight Against Coronavirus. Retrieved April 17, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/world/europe/coronavirus-france-digital-tracking.html