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For eons, the social contract was the glue that held the fabric of society together. The social contract, that unspoken, unwritten set of rules that we adhered to for the actual common good and welfare, was a silent agreement most people entered into out of a sense of decency and deference to our fellow man. We were, for example, willing to grow victory gardens and ration sugar during World War II or give up our seat on the train to a pregnant woman or senior passenger or return our shopping carts to the parking lot corral. More often than not, the social contract demanded little more than a minor inconvenience. Laws are, at their core, part of the social contract. Sure, you can choose to ignore the laws and face the consequences, but most people abide by the law of the land because it is the right thing to do.
For a while, the social contract has been under duress; as groups and individuals who seek to “live their truth” or whatnot frown upon and shun traditional social mores, the social contract has been weakened, it’s fabric becoming threadbare.
Most recently, the social contract was put to the ultimate test when federal and local authorities shut down daily life in America. “Non-essential” businesses – including bars, restaurants, and hair salons — were closed, and their “non-essential” employees sent to the unemployment line (many of them permanently). Those who were fortunate enough to keep their jobs shifted to working from home, where they often oversaw a chaotically assembled homeschool for their children who couldn’t attend classes, as schools also shuttered their doors. “Essential” workers, such as nurses like your author, saw dramatic changes to the workplace and even some of us faced furloughs or lay-offs as “elective” surgeries were canceled, beds were cleared to make room for a surge of COVID patients (that often never came), and hospitals began hemorrhaging cash. My local health care system has lost, to date, over $300 million dollars and projects they will lose over $1 billion in 2020.
Setting aside, for the sake of argument, the fact that no job is “non-essential” to the person who relies on it to put food on the table and a roof over their heads and the fact that “elective” surgeries are sometimes life-saving and quality-of-life improving, most people willingly agreed to this slow down of life. “15 days,” they said, “to flatten the curve and not overwhelm the hospitals. 15 days to save lives.”
We all know what happened next, despite the media’s attempts at gaslighting us into oblivion.
Those 15 days turned into 30, which turned into 45, 60, 75, then “until there’s a vaccine” and “life will never go back to the way it was, embrace the new normal.”
Except this is very, very abnormal. And the social contract was strained and torn.
And, a few weeks ago, when George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police, we saw the eruption of protests as well as violent, looting riots break out in metropolitan areas across the United States. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets, sans masks and social distancing, to protest police brutality. A not insignificant number burned down businesses, affordable housing construction, and looted those businesses lucky enough to remain free of the flames.
In and of itself, protesting police brutality is a noble cause and well within their rights. (The ways to actually, effectively address police brutality are the stuff for another column, however. Hint: it involves massively scaling back bloated government!)
Yet if we rewound back to late April and early May, as people waited for backlogged unemployment offices to address their claims, watched the $1,200 stimulus check get spent on necessities, and just wanted to get back to work…these people were labeled selfish Grandma killers whining about doing their hair. Blue checkmark accounts on Twitter smugly posted how anyone who questioned or dared protest in public the continued lockdowns in the midst of economic ruin should forfeit medical treatment (so much for health care being a “right”, I guess). We were monsters who did not care if our fellow man lived or died. Armed men who protested in Michigan were accused of laying siege to the state’s capitol. Even though they, like the George Floyd protesters, were well within their rights to protest.
Even “public health experts” – who had decried those earlier protests – were now suddenly on board with protests that addressed the problems of systemic racism in America. Contracting the virus, which at one time made you a homicidal maniac who wanted Grandma six feet under, was now a “calculated risk” that people who wanted to work, or get dinner, or a haircut were not allowed to take. Apparently COVID19 can discern if you want to go see a movie or if you want to deface or topple a statue of some old white dude who was undoubtedly a racist (even when he was an abolitionist).
The social contract was moved to the ICU.
George Floyd deserved a funeral. Yet he had three, or four, I lost count – none of which were constrained by limits on crowds or social distancing. Meanwhile, I and countless others buried our loved ones without such accommodations. In fact, at my father’s funeral, social distancing even among us family members was strictly enforced by someone from the cemetery at which he was laid to rest. Dad passed away on April 9; we’d hoped to have a memorial service on June 12, his 74th birthday. We still do not know when that will happen, as the city where his church is located is only allowing 35 people at socially distanced religious services, and having a proper reception is not happening at restaurants that are only operating at a percentage of their normal capacity.
The social contract was placed on life support.
Then enter New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In Brooklyn just this week, thousands gathered outside a museum in Brooklyn to protest for Black trans lives. Cool. That’s their right as well. DeBlasio has, throughout the pandemic, been particularly rancorous in targeting New York’s Jewish community. He threatened them with arrest if they gathered for funerals or other events, tweeting, “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
That was on April 28.
Today, DeBlasio ordered city workers to weld shut the fences around parks in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Weld shut. Some of the welding was later removed and replaced with chains, and at least one Jewish neighborhood took bolt cutters to said chains. DeBlaiso claimed in an earlier press conference that there’s a difference between protesters and the “aggrieved store owner or devout religious person who wants to go back to services”; the difference, of course, being DeBlasio likes the Black trans protests and not the devout religious person (especially the Jewish ones). DeBlasio, naturally, was displeased: “We’re not going to allow people to take the law into their own hands, it just doesn’t work. So people are not allowed to open up a playground that is not yet available to the public. It’s for a reason.”
Bill DeBlasio pulled the plug and the social contract died.
There is no way, not without massive law enforcement presence (good luck with that right now, in the midst of #DefundThePolice) or martial law that people will willingly enter into lockdowns if there’s a second wave this fall or winter.
It. Will. Not. Happen.
Not after the stunts the left, the media, and politicians have pulled the last couple of weeks. They demand that we adhere to the social contract: to put our lives on hold and watch as our economies crumbled, to let our loved ones die alone and be buried with no funeral, to isolate our seniors in nursing homes (where incompetent politicians sent sick people anyway, killing thousands) and to keep our children locked indoors in the gorgeous days of summer. They were merciless in their criticisms of us.
Then, magically, protests were okay. More than okay, fundamental to addressing systemic racism. Contracting COVID which, in April, made you a serial killer, was now simply a chance you’d have to take in order to end racism, and the virus could totally tell the difference between drinks at the local bar and social justice activism. The hypocrisy would be breathtaking if it were not so predictable. And it is equally as predictable that few, if any, people are going to simply close up shop in October or November. We can call Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas “protests” too and celebrate as normal. There’s no question killing the civil contract will have long-lasting effects on society at large.
The only question now is whether or not the social contract will be allowed to have a funeral.Published in