COVID-19 And Dependency of Liberty
Updated: May 11
Life has been harsher for most if not all of us since the Corona pandemic has begun. Some lost their jobs, their social lives, and others even died because of it. If there is something I personally learned about people in general during the emerge and spreading of this virus, at least based on my observations on how Israeli people cope with this global event, is that when you are given a certain degree of freedom to the point you are unwilling to give it up, you will suffer unnecessarily more than someone who is willing to compromise their liberties in the name of whatever cause they've sacrificed them for it.
Indeed, in order for a country to successfully fight and hopefully eradicate viruses such as COVID-19, implementation and enforcement of law is often insufficient when the population is too unwilling to cooperate and follow guidelines. This is because COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, and it only takes one person to be infected to put entire communities at risk.
At first glance, it seems strange that many people in some countries decline to follow the instructions given by their governments, the same governments that they serve and pay taxes to. Of course, not every government is morally perfect, but can you name a single country that would willingly risk the deaths of its entire population to a virus? If such a country exists, it must be led by a psychotic misanthrope who hates everyone, including his own citizens.
Still, the point is clear: no government wants to lose too many lives to a virus that can be fought and ultimately cured. Even though there have been scientific breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19, as long as there is no widespread distribution of a cure, families will be ruined by lost income, and people of all ages and races will be at risk of death.
We are all faced with a choice: do we trust the authorities as our most reliable guides in these difficult times, or do we rebel against the system in an attempt to preserve the same freedoms we had before 2020?
This brings me to a realization that I would like to share with you in this article: freedom can be a form of slavery as well, if we are so dependent on it that it becomes an addiction. COVID-19, despite its deadliness, teaches us something that we may have forgotten to some extent: that we sometimes have to give up some of our freedoms in order to adapt to a new situation that requires a certain degree of compromise, whether we are comfortable with it or not.
You may take this for granted, but in certain countries such as Israel and the United States, this is not the same as in more fortunate countries that are able to strike a balance between enforcing guidelines and public compliance. In Israel, at least, there are constant reports of people refusing to keep their distance, wear masks properly (over both mouth and nose), minorities hosting large and illegal gatherings such as weddings and other parties, breaking quarantine, and not getting tested even though they are required to do so.
I believe that such occurrences happen in other countries as well, and this leads me to another realization that may bother some people: some of us love liberty so much that we do not care about our own or our environment's health, and thus we negatively contribute to the chain of illness in our countries and beyond our borders, without necessarily caring about the scale of our impact.
I will not lie and say that the pandemic has had little impact on me. This is not only because of my more ascetic lifestyle, but also because I am willing to listen to the instructions of my government, because I know that there is no better option, no matter how incompetent its government may be. Even if I led a more vivid and full life, I would be willing to follow the law, not only to be a good citizen, but also to do my part, small as it may be, in the fight against COVID-19. By actively giving up temporarily counterproductive liberties, I have not only avoided paying a single penny in fines or for breaking the law, but I have also avoided getting COVID-19 myself and putting others at risk of getting it in a small country that is, generally, failing to stop the chain of infections.
This is the Rubinshteinic philosophy in this regard: freedom is not absolute due to realism. If reality requires us to give up on our freedom for legitimate causes, such as fighting a global disease, then at least in these cases, our freedoms should be compromised, no matter how enslaved we are to them.
Does slavery bring freedom? I highly doubt it. However, what I have recently learned is that freedom can indeed enslave us, at least by making us emotionally dependent on it, to the point of not being able to live without it, just like internet, gambling, and narcotic addictions. In this case, we can surely confirm that we are enslaved to our own liberties.