I keep hearing people throw this term around in light of the quarantine regarding the concept of Dangerous Freedom vs Safe Slavery. Inferring that we as a people are trading in our freedoms out of fear of the uncertainty of this time period. To be clear I am a huge proponent for limiting the government’s ability to infringe upon the decisions I make with my life on a daily basis. At the same time I am so irritated by the fact that so many of us have such an inability to sacrifice our own personal desires for the benefit of something greater than ourselves.
Our nation was founded by rough men willing to do violence on the behalf of their countrymen and women. That history has led to a proud tradition of carrying on as a nation that fiercely supports and defends the Constitution. Which brings me to the major contradiction I myself am struggling with at this time. I do personally believe that forced quarantine is in fact an unlawful search and seizure. However I am willing to sacrifice that freedom temporarily in order to benefit the collective. There are always selfish individuals who serve their own interests first.
Ask anyone who spent time in the military what it is like to try and get an entire group of people to behave themselves in order to benefit the group and they will roll their eyes. When I was a platoon commander I was the guy who signed his platoon up for additional training during a four-day weekend. When we returned from training my Marines were smoked. I promised them I would go get them two, three-day weekends to make up for this. After that I made it clear that they were all secured to very restrictive liberty bounds (a 50 mile radius of the base). They all promised they would be on their best behavior throughout the weekend so I could negotiate these two, three-day weekends with our commanding officer (CO).
The following day, in the midst of discussing this with my CO, and presenting a pointed argument for how hard my Marines were working to earn this additional benefit, I learned a valuable lesson in the selfishness of the finest men our nation has to offer. Our Company First Sergeant walked in to the office and interrupted us.
“Gentlemen, happy I found you both. Lieutenant McCarthy, 3 of your Machine Gunners just called. They’re in a jail cell down in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m trying to arrange for someone to get down there and pay their bail.”
My jaw was on the floor because Atlanta was 8 hours away and my platoon had been back from training for no more than 14 hours. This, paired with the fact that my Marines all knew our ability to get two additional 3 day weekends depended on their good behavior. Ironically, the two Marines sitting in a prison cell at that moment were the two Marines I was looking dead in the eye as I said, “Don’t fuck this up.” The silence in the room ended with a smirk on my COs face when he said, “Well McCarthy, I know a platoon commander and three machine gunners who are getting a three-day weekend to make a road trip back from Georgia.”
Fortunately I didn’t have to go pick those knuckleheads up. They ended up getting bailed out by a family-member. I also love those Marines. I don’t hate them for making a selfish move. They took a risk, and we don’t want young men who are scared to take risks at the tip of our nation’s spear. We want crazy, testosterone-filled, muscle-bound, individuals who are going to be willing to charge a machine-gun bunker and kill a man with their bare hands. You can’t have one without the other.
I talk about these three individuals mostly because they demonstrate the problem our nation faces today. We are not a people who will idly sit by and be told to stay in their homes until further notice. I don’t know if re-opening is the answer. 1.5 million deaths is a statistic being thrown around as something we estimate happening in response to the re-opening. That’s 1/2 of a percent of the population when we view it from Joseph Stalin’s Perspective (“1 million deaths is a statistic”). When that person dying is your mother, or father that you cannot even sit next to as they pass away, 1 death is too great of a price to pay.
I don’t want to sacrifice my freedoms. I don’t want to live my life scared. I want to go out and experience the short time I have on this earth because it is in fact very short in the grand scheme of things. I don’t want to be the one responsible for others losing loved ones either. I choose safe slavery if it means another day with every member of my family. I’m willing to sacrifice the now for a greater future. What I know, is there are a lot of things going on right now that we actually don’t know about. Whether it’s a discussion of dealing with pestilence or going off to war there is definitely a constant similarity. The chest-beaters and the war-drummers are always the loudest about how we should forget about the risk and charge off for glory. Those people are usually always the first ones to find an excuse not to sign up to be on the front line of conflict.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.