Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
In strange times, what was once commonplace now seems bizarre. I was walking the dogs earlier this week and a couple of kids on bikes in a nearby park stuck with me. I watched as the boy and girl – probably around 11- or 12-years-old rode their bikes through the grass and down a slope steep enough that in winter makes for a black-diamond sledding hill. Neither child wore helmets nor shoes. The girl’s long, golden hair carried by the breeze was the last I saw as the pair peddled furiously out of view. I looked around. No parents. No nanny. No park overseer waiting to scold them for enjoying a sunny afternoon with such reckless abandon. I smiled at the thought that even in this time of modified police state, there were these two kids unaware of the cynical, fearful world beyond the park. Then it made me sad. I wasn’t mournful in a sense of lost nostalgia, but I realized these kids were an endangered species. And if the government had its way, they would be extinct.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control released statistics showing the US birthrate fell to the lowest level since the data was collected in 1909. And 2019 births numbered approximately 3.75 million – the lowest level in 35 years. Experts attribute the decline to women waiting to start families later in life, after they establish a career and lifestyle. But there is another layer. Americans are losing the faculty for risk. We have long enjoyed the reputation and benefit of a society willing to join the fray up to the point of near brashness and unbridled enthusiasm for venturing into the unknown. We leveraged a font of freedom combined with ingenuity and liberty that created a great nation of unlimited opportunity.
What greater risk is there than to carry on a new generation despite a guaranteed level of uncertainty? There is no perfect time to start a family, just the gratitude of having the miracle of life bestowed to us. But the current social climate of mitigating risk at all cost is stifling the American Spirit, and the COVID pandemic is making this painfully obvious. When reports out of China and Europe blasted grim headlines detailing mass carnage, overrun hospitals, and the high unknown effects of the virus, it was a reasonable reaction to follow the guidelines of our elected leaders, whom we assume have access to information to make at least semi-informed decisions in our best interest. We complied. Americans watched as field hospitals were built, as companies switched manufacturing capabilities to churn out personal protective equipment and ventilators. But outside of New York City, the impending run on body bags for the average American adult never materialized. Instead we saw carnage of another sort: record-breaking unemployment, nationwide school closings, alarming spikes in mental health problems, and holds on necessary ‘nonessential’ medical procedures.
Now we are left with a new standard of governance over the people: safety at all cost. We have been convinced death is not something we can risk. But without risk, we can’t have life. And the stay-home-forever crowd is setting a terrible precedent for our kids. They are modeling behavior antithetical to that upon which America was founded and must have to survive.
We had a problem with social anxiety, depression, and suicide amongst our youth before the pandemic. Continuing an extended lockdown despite no valid argument teaches kids to live in fear at the behest of government. Where is a message of hope and optimism in the unquestioning allegiance to guidelines that only further isolate them and discourage social interaction that builds the foundation for a stable, successful adulthood in which they can navigate life’s ups-and-downs? We’re not only taking away opportunities to learn and practice coping skills, but we are robbing them of their childhood. And as Bethany Mandel wrote yesterday, CDC guidelines for schools look to only exacerbate the problem. This used to be joked about as a “Helicopter” mode of parenting, but handing over our kids to a government that promises to be a savior is tantamount to betraying our, and our kids’ futures.
We have started to see a few cracks in the stay-at-home armor of the political class. A promising development came late Wednesday when Minnesota Catholic and Lutheran churches told Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison they would refuse to let the First Amendment be trampled on by the Governor’s self-proclaimed emergency powers. This was the correct move and I hope the state’s synagogues and mosques follow. We should refuse to be good little boys and girls, content with pats on the head and the crumbs the government mercifully throws us. Political elites expect us to dutifully snap back in line when they stomp their feet and wave their arms and yell “science!” and promise to keep us safe in exchange for compliance.
This the predictable progression of an increasingly intrusive and overbearing government. Politicians and unelected bureaucrats have eroded the bonds of reliance and trust between each other, leading to a deference to government to make our choices for us. It allows fear of our neighbors and a distrust of traditional institutions within our communities to be the arbiters of how we want to live our lives. Are we willing to turn our kids into the park police for the sake of safety? Do we show them the best life is a life lived without risk? That the pain of failure or imperfection isn’t worth the reward that may not come in this life, but the next?
Where government weakens moral ties, like that between houses of worship and parishioners, the moral understanding of the religious, and the inherent value of life as well as the promise of what follows beyond our earthly presence, the political ties are strengthened. When government marginalizes the necessity of the family, community, faith, and the pursuit of manifest destiny, it forces a reliance on following the edicts of a centralized government. By rejecting the idea that the citizenry can be trusted to come to the proper conclusions about opening the economy and society, the government is rejecting our Constitutional rights. But those belong to us. They aren’t the government’s to grant. They belong to us. We need to start acting like it.Published in