By D. Allan Kerr
For all the folks complaining about the freedoms you’re being denied because of this pesky coronavirus pandemic, imagine being told how much gasoline you can put in your tank each week.
When you do drive, you’re not allowed to speed more than 35 miles per hour. You’re told you can’t buy more than your fair share of sugar, coffee, meat, or clothing. You’re even required to abide by blackout restrictions.
The Memorial Day holiday we recently celebrated always makes me think of the Greatest Generation – not only those who fought overseas to save the world, but the folks who made sacrifices back home, as well.
After observing the antics of certain citizens in recent weeks, you have to wonder if we’d still be flying an American flag if they’d been the ones holding the fort during World War II.
I keep thinking of that scene in the beloved film, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” in which Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey – classified 4F (not fit for duty) because of his bad ear – is fighting the war on the home front.
He’s the local air raid warden, and the guy overseeing paper drives, rubber recycling and gas distribution. “The battle of Bedford Falls,” the narrating angel Joseph tells angel-in-training Clarence.
“Hold on, hold on now!” George Bailey barks to his impatient neighbors at one point. “Don’t ya know there’s a war on??”
The Greatest Generation understood during World War II they were caught in a deadly vice between Nazi Germany and fascist Italy on one side of the country, and imperial Japan on the other. They were willing to do their part to save each other.
Seems like a few people frustrated with inconvenience today have forgotten there’s a war taking place right here on our soil.
Donald Trump has repeatedly described himself as a “wartime president,” and described the American people as “warriors” during the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other political leaders have also likened the pandemic to waging war. But some groups are portraying efforts to keep our communities safe as a power grab by politicians.
To what end, I’m not sure.
I don’t imagine it’s fun for governors to have to issue stay-at-home orders and then cobble together complex plans for a phased reopening.
These guys are in a tough spot – if they hold off on reopening measures they’re accused of harming businesses and the local economy, but they’ll also be blamed for any spike in deaths if states open too quickly.
Maine’s clownish former governor, Paul LePage, recently turned up at an anti-lockdown rally outside the governor’s mansion in Augusta – where he spoke to protesters just 30 feet away via cellphone from inside a vehicle with Florida plates.
These individuals were protesting actions by current Gov. Janet Mills, which have so far kept Maine’s coronavirus-related death toll to 79 (as of May 27), at a time when nearby Massachusetts has suffered 6,473 related deaths (as of May 26).
Think about that.
Just to be clear, my gripe isn’t with citizens worrying how they will support their families without a paycheck.
These folks are facing legitimate and dire financial concerns in uncertain times.
But some of those speaking loudest against preventative measures are antagonists and conspiracy theorists trying to fire up anti-government sentiment in line with their own beliefs.
(Incidentally, it cracks me up to hear right-wingers portray themselves as patriots when they stage demonstrations, while they describe protesting liberals as a bunch of whiners.)
We read a lot of snarky comments on social media from folks scorning those who want to make sure we’re safe before reopening the country, implying you’re chicken if you don’t leave the house without a mask.
I’ve actually seen people on TV verbally assaulting others for wearing these masks, accusing them of spreading fear.
These idiots are missing the point – predictably, since it involves consideration for others. The purpose of covering your mouth isn’t just to keep you from being sick, but to ensure you don’t spread disease to those who might be more vulnerable.
I had some of the symptoms related to this thing a while back and am 99% certain I’m not personally at risk. But I’d feel pretty damn crappy if it ever turned out I’d passed something on to someone else.
The funny thing is, some of these currently protesting are – individually – the kind of people who would lend a hand if they know someone is in need. I used to work with them on lobster docks, and spent four years of my life with them aboard a Navy helicopter carrier.
Many of these bozos you see carrying assault weapons on the steps of their state capitols would be the first inclined to stop and push your car out of the mud if you were stuck on the side of the road. Or better yet, they’d have chains to pull you out.
If you’re going thru hard times, they’re the ones who will buy you a beer at the local pub.
I just have a feeling they’re being played, by forces trying to fan mob animosity for some personal or political benefit.
D. Allan Kerr believes we can always use more George Baileys in today’s climate.
(May 27, 2020)
He can also be found on seacoastonline.com