Your Freedom Is Not More Important Than Saving Lives Right Now

Thoughts about Americans during a pandemic.. from an American.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I was completely bearish on the coronavirus. I didn’t see the big deal.

More people die from the flu. Only 2–3% of folks die. What was the big deal?

Well, I was ignorant. That was the deal.

Public opinion as a whole started to shift as we saw the number of infected skyrocket in America, Spain, and Italy. It became clear to many of us that this was indeed something to take VERY seriously.

“Five people I know have died,” my friend said.

He just told me that five minutes ago on a phone call. I couldn’t believe it.

“Yeah, you can’t quite understand it until it happens to someone you know,” he said.

I felt terrible. I’m not going home anymore. I don’t want to give the coronavirus to my parents if I somehow contract it on an airplane. I’m staying put here in the Philippines, where there is a full lockdown in Luzon.

Only one person from my apartment can go out to get food or medicine. There is a curfew. There’s military checkpoints. People are following the rules. It doesn’t feel weird.

Yet all I see on Facebook are posts like “I’m not sure this is worth giving up my freedom for.”

Jesus. What an American thing to say. Our obsession with freedom knows no bounds. We don’t even want to trust the government for more than 30 days during a literal pandemic.

And that’s a problem.

I’m Disillusioned With America Right Now

I haven’t lived in America for two years. Every time I come back I’m shocked.

I see people with so little here in Asia sometimes and when I come back home to my rowdy kin who are also known to complain about really stupid stuff I can’t help but want to board a plane back to Asia immediately.

It’s sort of like a reverse culture shock.

Perhaps this distance is why I can see things so clearly. All this talk of “freedom” is precisely why the United States has more cases of COVID-19 than the rest of the world.

We don’t want to obey the rules. We want our freedom, damnit. The problem is, when we exercise our freedom, more people die. Which brings me to an obvious point..

Our freedom is not more important than saving lives right now.

I know that’s hard for Americans to hear who basically make three animal sacrifices to the idol of freedom every single day.

And I totally understand how it can be a slippery slope to just give up all our freedom and trust the government.

My parents told me “We gave it up so easily.”

But for me, though, it’s not that hard to understand..

It’s a pandemic.

It’s not like a dictator is taking over America right now.

Here in the Philippines there’s military on the street. There’s checkpoints and quarantine zones.

I’m not sweating, though. I know they’ll go away in three weeks when this is over. I don’t have the American paranoia anymore.


Because I see what Americans say about “third world” countries, I see their complete detachment from reality, and I realize we’re wrong about a lot of stuff. We blow things out of proportion. We make mountains out of molehills.

We have what’s known as “First World Problems.” We’ve resorted to complaining about how we can’t go for a freaking drive and how that’s the start of an oppressive regime in America. Because we’re spoiled brats.

Meanwhile, the Filipino people have obeyed the government. They’ve done what they’re told.

Because of that, the Philippines has VERY limited cases of coronavirus — about 4,000 to be exact. Their obedience has saved lives. Compare their mindset to those of our college spring breakers who can’t stop themselves from rubbing up on every half-naked body they find and you’ll see why America has over half a million cases right now.

We’re the laughing stock of the world. We really are. We are making ourselves look bad. We are focusing on all the wrong things, it seems. And it’s so obvious to me because I live in a country that is so far from America.

Sure, we can have our freedom I guess. I wonder, though, if someone preaching about their right to freedom would change their mind if they ever caught the virus and got on a ventilator.

Who knows.

No, you know what? They’d probably just blame the Chinese even more.

Our Obsession With Freedom Doesn’t Have To Be So Black And White

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
-Ben Franklin

I love myself some Ben Franklin. He is one of my heroes. I think there’s a lot of truth to this statement, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about a pandemic when he said this.

We need to open up our eyes as Americans. I think most of us are doing well. Most of us are obeying the rules. Most of us are doing what we need to do.

But let’s not act like this is unreasonable. People are dying. It’s almost like we believe our personal freedom is more important than human life. And if you asked me, that’s a bigger slippery slope than temporarily giving up our freedom is.

As we have seen from this pandemic, there ARE certain situations where we need to temporarily give up our freedom. I’m not asking you to understand that (even though that would be great). I’m simply asking you to put your freedom on the back burner for now so we can save some lives.

And after it’s all over, I’ll come over, pop a beer with you, cook a few hotdogs, and listen to all your ideas about government, the world, and America. And we’ll laugh and have a good time.

Until then, let’s stay inside.

Vlogger. Travel blogger. 27 years old. Currently in the Philippines. Get my free 5-day Medium course via email →

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