One of the most cherished and defining characteristics of America has long been the ability of its citizens to exercise their individual rights as detailed and guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and subsequent amendments. Obviously, not everyone would be allowed to enjoy these rights because of their race, gender or economic status when the nation was first formed. But progress and changing attitudes about “justice for all” have slowly leveled the field.
For centuries, millions of people have overcome unimaginable obstacles, leaving their native lands and moving to America in search of a nation that prides itself as one which affirms democratic rule over dictatorial enforcement.
But there remain moments in history when our insistence to exercise our individual rights must be subverted for the good of the country – the many.
The ongoing coronavirus health pandemic serves as such a moment in time.
During a press conference on Nov. 17, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) reinstituted COVID-19 stage two protocols which had been enforced during the summer as infection rates surged to then-unprecedented heights. Among the changes which go into effect on Friday, Nov. 20: no hospital or nursing home visitations (with limited exceptions); no fans allowed at stadiums; no dine-in service at restaurants or bars after 10 p.m.; and capacity for in-door dining limited to 50 customers.
“More important than any public health order is your willingness to take personal responsibility,” Hogan said.
Indeed, Hogan aptly describes the situation which we, as one nation, face.
Clearly, many Americans have grown weary of remaining locked up, isolated from friends and loved ones, unable to return to enjoying such things as taking last-minute cross-country trips, bar hopping on Friday nights, rooting for our favorite team during high school football games on crisp Saturday nights or watching young children learn how to play together as new kindergarteners or first graders.
But if we value life over individual rights, we must move toward a national policy and follow it to the letter.
Only if the majority of Americans can put away pride and selfishness in order to consider the needs of the many, will we succeed in overcoming our common enemy: COVID-19.