In today’s political environment, I am more traditional than progressive, albeit with a few liberal skeletons in my conservative closet.
But at my philosophical core, I am a libertarian, with a fervent belief in individual rights and a tolerance for the minimum government necessary to protect those rights.
A libertarian, not an anarchist, though the line between them may be fine, a line I swear the government is trying hard to get me to cross.
This is the most important thought in my mind as I note the disappearance of the great Covid outbreak from the news. Have you noticed that after two years of raging like a blazing inferno, Covid is now drifting away like smoke from a dying campfire?
Certainly, one of the reasons is the relentless onslaught of new fascinations and anxieties. Back home, we have spiraling inflation and our racial and gender struggles; overseas there is a war with global implications and real heroes and villains to admire and despise,
But there is also an element of crisis fatigue. We can only keep our alert level that high for so long, so eventually we drop it. Those who still die of Covid will no longer be icons, just victims, like those who succumb to the flu or perish in one-car crashes on a rural road at night.
We eventually just got tired of it all. At least I did, because I have to be careful not to project too much.
Tired of being lied to. Tired of being manipulated. Tired of being treated like a child one day, a prisoner of war the next, and a pawn on a chessboard every day.
My respect for authority, marginal at best, was pushed to the breaking point. The government, always citing the incontrovertible truth of great divine science, issued conflicting edicts that we were all supposed to follow. The economy has been turned upside down, our schools paralyzed, lives lost or damaged not by disease but by stupidity. And when the errors in judgment became evident, those in authority redoubled their efforts.
And the press, to whom we should have been able to turn for objective reporting and analysis, took sides and became just another player in the circus. Covid has become one more manifestation of the life-and-death battle between the Red State and the Blue State, angry crowds inflamed by media cheerleaders.
So, the question we should all be asking ourselves in this soon to be post-Covid world is: what will we do next? When there is an even greater crisis – and there will be, with perhaps the survival of humanity at stake – who should we trust?
The answer is what it has always been, however forgotten it may be. We should trust each other. We gather all the information we can from all available sources, process it according to our own knowledge and experience, and use our own judgement.
That’s the fundamental principle of the United States, isn’t it? We are not ruled by the majority, nor by the wisdom of our best and brightest. We empower public servants to use their best judgment and limit the authority they have in multiple ways, because we know that power is the greatest threat to individual autonomy and that protecting individual autonomy is the only way to thwart tyranny.
We will not find our salvation in our groups, whether defined by race, sex, gender identity, religion or even the advocacy of political opposition in exile. The advance of one tribe is often the retreat of another tribe, with those in power defining the favored tribe of the moment.
Rights are inherent in the individual. This is the great truth that makes our Constitution the greatest freedom document in history. And it is the truth that we were in danger of giving up on even before Covid and that seems almost out of reach today.
And we have to get it back. Without a firm belief in ourselves as individuals, we cannot even summon the minimum trust we must place in government, so we will forever walk through another one of those fine lines, from skepticism to cynicism. Even libertarians cannot survive long in this arid environment.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is the winner of the Hoosier Press Association award for best columnist. Morris, as an opinion writer for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at [email protected]