Why do we have such a hard time sitting still?

I have family members, unable to stay inside another minute, who are going on unnecessary trips. They’re visiting public places such as the mall, post office, grocery store and even an accountant’s office when they don’t really need to. I’m guilty of the same unnecessary behavior.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

What is wrong with us? Simple. It’s not that we’re necessarily bored; it’s that we’re human and we want to be free.

Freedom is a complicated topic, however. Theologians, philosophers and politicians have been debating it for millennia.

The average person would probably define freedom as the ability to do what you want, when you want, how you want and why you want. “Don’t tread on me,” in a phrase.

Actress Evangeline Lilly, who played Kate in the TV show “Lost,” was castigated last week for sending her daughter to gymnastics camp despite warnings to social distance and shelter in place. She said the government response to COVID-19 is a power grab and seeks to destroy individual liberty.

“Some people value their lives over freedom, some people value freedom over their lives. We all make our choices,” she wrote.

While I would normally admire Lilly’s response, is this real freedom? No.

In Christian theology, God is the author of freedom. God created us with free will. We can choose to follow his commands or not. God used his own free will to create us in his image with the freedom to choose right from wrong. I’m reminded of this basic tenet of Christianity as I watch various countries react to the virus.

Governments around the world are responding in two significantly different ways. Authoritarian states such as China have forced quarantine on whole cities and dragged people out of their homes and into local hospitals. They treat their populace like enslaved automatons. There’s no such thing as free will in Communist China.

Many democracies, such as America, on the other hand, have so far urged citizens to willingly comply with social distancing and self-quarantines. They are hoping to gain the public’s willing compliance in an effort to limit the virus’ spread so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.

In the Chinese model, the government resembles a deity that doesn’t trust its creation with free will. It expects complete submission and gives the populace no chance to willingly obey.

American democracy, however, trusts its citizens with the freedom to choose to follow rules and suggestions. Right now, most of us (except those in breakout states such as California and New York, as of this writing) are free to follow, or not follow, the directives put forth by the government pertaining to self-quarantine. The government is relying on individuals to use their free will to follow the rules.

There are people who are still getting with the program and they (including myself) should realize that sometimes freedom isn’t just doing what you want. It’s doing the right and wise thing without being forced by an outside entity.

Conservatives have a hard time following government directives because we’re cognizant of past abuses and wary of future ones, as Lilly rightly conveys. But sometimes the government acts wisely and we should recognize it.

We’re fortunate to live in a country with a Constitution that says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. Let’s embrace our freedom to do the right thing by staying home as much as possible in hopes of “flattening the curve” so hospitals aren’t overrun.

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