Let Us Be Free From the Worst Kind of Tyranny

In his first address to the nation last week about the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden told us: “If we do our part... by July 4, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day... Small groups will be able to get together.”

He continued to say that we would “make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.”

What he said as well as how he said it reminded me of my grandpa who used to wag his finger at me and told me that if I behave, he would give me a spoonful of sugar as a reward (we didn’t have candy back then because of food shortage and food ration). But if I continued to misbehave, grandpa warned, he would have to spank my bottom. 

Just like my grandpa, President Biden also warned that if we didn’t listen to him and behave, there would be punishment: “if we don’t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track.”

I love my grandpa, and I am grateful for his discipline and teaching when I was a child. But I’m not a child anymore. It’s deeply troubling that our constitution Republic’s elected leader felt so comfortable to dress down free people as children and co-opted a holiday celebration as a reward and a lockdown as punishment to mold our behaviors. Even worse, out of all the holidays, he picked the day meant to celebrate our freedom and independence from tyranny.

How we choose to celebrate Independence day is none of President Biden's business. How many people we want to invite to our own homes is none of the government's business.  Our right to gather and our freedom to live the life we see fit are endowed by God, not from a benevolent government or a political leader who acts like he is the father of the nation. Our government was set up to secure our rights, not to tramp all over our rights. It is unAmerican for the President of the United States of America to believe that all our rights are in his goodie bag. He has the power and authority to either hand one out or takes one away like candy, depending on if we behave in a way he desired or not.

In Colorado, Democrat Governor Jared Polis signed a proclamation, declaring this Saturday,  March 20,  a #MeatOut Day, because he believes that going vegan is good for Coloradans' health and good for the environment. It takes a special kind  of arrogance for an elected leader to think that he has the power to dictate what people should and should not eat. Who would have thought that choosing to eat meat will be an act of civil disobedience in one of the 50 states in the United States in 2021?

For those who argue that both President Biden's  and Governor Polis's hearts are in the right place, that their  intentions are good, and they care about all of us, please note this famous passage from C.S. Lewis's book, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

The pandemic has exposed this worst kind of tyranny, the tyranny that restricts how free people ought to live their lives, all in the name of health and safety.

For more than a year, many of us were forced into living in fear and isolation. We have been so afraid of catching COVID-19, or even worse, dying from COVID-19 that we forgot how to live. Life is never risk-free. I don't know if we will ever live in a COVID-19 free world. Even if we somehow find a way to wipe out COVID-19, like how we eliminated smallpox, some other viruses or diseases will emerge. Free and mature people know how to take calculated risk, how to balance risk and reward while still living a productive and meaningful life. So when Independence Day comes around this year, celebrate it however you see fit. Just remember, President Biden was wrong to declare this day as a day of independence from the COVID-19 virus. Celebrate it as a day of freedom from the worst kind of tyranny.

Please check out my latest in Newsweek: How big tech companies digital book burning threatens a free and open society. John Milton's warning that "he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself" rings especially true today as we witness Amazon and other big tech companies using their enormous market power to effectively ban certain books.