I confess – I haven’t really been feeling all that much like myself lately. Too many changes in too short a time, perhaps? Familiar routines stripped away, maybe? But whatever the reason, I am feeling more and more like the proverbial frog in the pot. I hardly noticed how and can’t say for sure when I entered said pot. It didn’t seem all that dangerous at the time. In fact it was supposed to keep me safe.
Safe from what? Which is the more dangerous place to be? Inside the pot or outside of it? These are the questions I ponder in the pot, as I tread water that steadily increases in temperature. My safe space, (I was told I would be safe here) this soothing frog sauna, is silently, secretly oozing steam to cloud my vision. When the steam gives way to a bubbling boil, the time for choices will be over. The time for me to speak up will have passed.
I will no longer have a voice. Neither will any of the other frogs in this pot with me. The time for action will be behind us. Do we think we are on some government sponsored frog resort vacation? Do we imagine that when it ends we will simply return to the lives and the freedoms we so carelessly, thoughtlessly left behind? When the stimulus money and the unemployment checks run out, do we expect to simply exit the sauna and enter into our old lives once again?
They will not be there waiting for us. Many businesses will not be able to reopen. They will cease to exist. Will libraries, schools, churches, museums etc. be allowed to reopen? And with such a high percentage of the population now successfully infected with the fear virus, which is much more contagious than the corona virus, many will not venture out but remain at home while others follow suite.
Will Broadway remain dark, Disney World closed, sporting arenas empty? It will be a ghost civilization, a masked, muffled, fear filled population, living in isolation from each other. Community events will be no more. Community will be no more. Well, except for cyber communities, but those can be monitored and controlled easily. Facebook and YouTube and Google already censor what goes on their platforms. no dissent allowed. no free speech. That would be too dangerous. People might be exposed to new or different ideas. This might lead people to think for themselves. Can’t have that. Especially not in frog world.
Better just to keep the frogs in the nice warm pot, ease their apprehensions and assure them it will all be over soon. (truth can be so ironic) The frogs are fully expecting to return to their pre-pot world when their swim is over. When invited in for the good of all, they were told fourteen days was the going length of stay necessary to make the outside safe again.
Somehow this turned into thirty days but that seemed reasonable and the pot was warm and the time would pass quickly. After all, it was necessary for the greater good. No one likes a selfish, uncaring frog. Better to comply. Besides, I’m not feeling as “jumpy” as I used to, this water is just so relaxing.
The news from outside the pot is “good.” They are getting things under control, it’s just going to take a little longer than they first told us. The back to school date of April 6th moved to May 1st, so we settled in for an extended swim, May 1st would be here soon enough. But then startling news came, schools would not reopen at all this school year.
The libraries no longer had a reopen date either. They just gave up. Other events began moving their dates further into the future. The pot keepers shook their heads and murmured things not about returnings but about retreatings – more restrictions were added gradually over time, after we had accepted the first ones. It was really getting warm in the pot!
We had to keep our distance in the pot, of course, but now we needed masks and gloves (in addition to distance) and we were not to leave our assigned spots in the pot unless someone deemed it “essential.” This is confusing because “essential” like “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder. You get a bad beholder and the pot boils over.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In other words to keep quiet and look the other way, to refuse to speak up until it is too late.
If they would have told me it was a permanent pot, I never would have gotten in. And neither would the other frogs have been found willing. No more freedom of assembly? No more football? No more Broadway? No more school? No more church? Impossible! Did COVID-19 kill the Constitution?
But a fourteen day break/vacation? sure that’s doable. Keeping a little distance and not shaking hands? sure, we can all do that. washing our hands and cleaning surfaces? of course, why wouldn’t we?
Never attending a full church service or a musical or a movie or a sporting event or a wedding or a graduation or family get together or travel again? What world would this be? Not a free one, that’s for sure.
In a free world places are open, events are taking place but participation is voluntary. Just because a restaurant is open, no one has to eat there. And if they don’t it will close. That’s what freedom is – freedom to choose.
No one spoke up because who would protest a fourteen day quarantine that was going to save so many lives? And now the pot is boiling, my time to jump has passed, my ability to jump is gone, my voice silenced along with all the other good, obedient frogs who signed up for fourteen days and received a life sentence instead.
The death of Freedom is a fearful thing. Our silence allowed her passing unnoticed until she was gone and now we can’t even assemble to mourn her loss, to throw her a proper funeral.
Fill a free people with fear, keep them fearful long enough to heard them into the protective pot, soothe them in a sauna of promises that things will return to normal soon enough, tell them how good and noble and self sacrificing they are being and only when they are lulled into acceptance of the “new normal” tell them that there is no return to what they left behind because what they left behind is gone.
They are no longer free. Government will tell them where they can go, if they can go and what they can and cannot do there. Others will decide what is “essential” and what is not. We are told the COVID-19 world is now a very dangerous place and we cannot be trusted to figure out how to walk in it, to work in it, or to live in it. So we are not allowed to live our lives in it. Our lives will remain on indefinite hold in the pot.
But this announcement now brings no cries of outrage or of protest. Strange the silence that follows this proclamation. All that can be seen or heard is the steam rising above the bubbling water in the pot.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)
“if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
faith not fear . . . freedom not fear . . .
sincerely, Grace Day