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What Good is Saving Lives if We’re Not Allowed to Live?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Let’s just get something straight, right off the top. The goal of this national shutdown was never about “saving lives.” It was about “flattening the curve” to avoid overwhelming our hospitals. No promises of not getting sick yourself. No guarantee if we all just wait it out COVID-19 would pack up and head back to Wuhan. No. It’s here to stay. We did our part. We bought the medical community time. We’d like to go back to work now.


But, no. As New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy said this week, …”We’re in here trying to save lives, every single day. We are absolutely, desperately trying to save every life we can." Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf continues to threaten to expand stay at home orders even as he opens limited parts of the state because if there’s another spike he must do what he can to “save lives.”

When did this become the new metric?  You’ve read many brilliant commentaries on the number of things that kill Americans every single year like choking, heart disease, cancer, auto accidents, medical accidents, and run-of-the-mill accidents.

Of all of them, the Wuhan Coronavirus is the one medical villain our bureaucratic Avengers have decided warrants ruining economies and eroding Americans’ personal freedoms and way of life to “defeat”? Rather, from which they’ll “save” you and me?

Of course, that’s absurd. They can’t save you from getting sick. But they’re going to look like they’re trying. By the way, to show your solidarity that you’re a good American they’ve decided to make you prove you’re doing something, too.

The Avengers mask – the new way forward for all we Avengers recruits! It’s mandatory in states like Pennsylvania. You must wear one if you intend to shop anywhere still open or the store must throw you out. 

You’re even commanded to wear it in gatherings outdoors. It makes everyone feel good. We’re safe from illness now. It shows you’re on the side of virtue. If you’re not wearing one – SHAME!  RUN!  ENEMY! We used to tie yellow ribbons around oak trees. Now we have to tie bandanas around our faces to prove we’re (say it with me in that zombie cult chant) “all in this together.”


I hate what we’ve become. The random videos of cops arresting moms in parks, knocking on doors of people with suspected visitors in their homes, and mayors threatening religious gatherings. Neighbors tattling on neighbors. People jogging outside or driving alone in cars wearing masks. 

What are we doing? For the promise you won’t get sick? That even if you feel well, someone else might die? I don’t know how anyone steps out their front door again if their driving, daily thought is how they or someone they know might die.

Listen, I’m as pro-life as they come. I wrote a column to that effect recently. I’m glad to see all these governors who think of abortion as a religious experience now seem to be interested in saving every life. I just know they don’t mean it. This is just their time to shine.

Most of these people never make news in ordinary times. You only hear about them when they propose some wacky budget item or try to ban this or that. Governors are mostly unremarkable people, and that’s just fine with me. The best leaders are those who leave you the hell alone. Of course, that’s not who some of these governors are at their core.

You can almost imagine them talking to themselves in the mirror in the morning. “The people need saving, Tom! It’s time to prove to Mother she was wrong about me! I will amount to something! I’m in total control now!”

Every Marvel movie features the character who feels inferior and suddenly amasses enormous power and tries to control the universe with it. But these governors see themselves as Captain America. They’re not. They’re closer to the power-crazed villain.


The American people are the Avengers in this movie. And we already did our part. We didn’t vanquish evil (the virus) forever. It will return just like evil returns in the next film. And we’ll figure out how to deal with it when it returns, too. And we’ll better understand its weaknesses.

Closing down our economy, shutting down business, and people tattling on one another, living in terror, unable to move freely is not the behavior of brave heroes. That’s the behavior of defeated weaklings. Our enemies must love it. 

We all know who’s most at risk. Let’s work to protect them. We all know most of us won’t die if we catch it. We know millions of us already caught it and never knew we had it.

When one of my three kids gets the flu, I don’t stay home from work for weeks even though the flu kills tens of thousands of the ailing and elderly annually. But that’s where we are with this virus and too many Americans feel that makes sense.  

Look what we’ve become. 

This week in an attempt to lift spirits and change the godforsaken news cycle for half a second, the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds flew over New York and Philadelphia on a beautiful, clear, 70-degree day to pay tribute to our health care providers. Onlookers gathered on the waterfronts of Manhattan and New Jersey and on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps to soak in the sun and enjoy a patriotic change of pace.

But close behind the uplifting moment came the pseudo-Avengers squawking on social media and evening news about a lack of social distancing and masks as citizens looked to the sky. They’re saving lives by reminding us all how badly we’re behaving, don’t you see?


You’ve heard the quotes. As old as our nation’s founding. History’s most famous Pennsylvanian, Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” C.S. Lewis wrote, “Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under the omnipotent moral busybodies." 

It’s not clear if they were wearing masks at the original time of the quotes, of course. I’ll check on it and get back with you. 

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