This is an opinion piece.
COVID-19 is old news. Yes, it’s still a concern, and yes, you should take precautions, but do we really need to keep talking about it?
If we must, then it should only be to say this: Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth is right.
Now, he wasn’t right when he projected Alabama could have nearly 250,000 cases by May, but that can be excused since everyone was guessing and he was taking the virus as seriously as he should at the time.
Fast forward to today, Ainsworth is better known for his open criticism of Gov. Kay Ivey’s imposed mask mandates, though he says he personally wears a mask and encourages others to do so. But it’s his perceived cavalier attitude that brought him extra attention Wednesday when he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The I-told-you-sos, death wishes and hit pieces came pouring in almost immediately. Maybe now he and the other science deniers would see the virus is real!
However, in a radio interview Thursday on the Jeff Poor Show, the Guntersville native doubled down on his anti-mandate stance saying that his recent diagnosis did nothing to change his views.
“I think everybody needs personal responsibility,” Ainsworth said. “I think the government mandate is a dangerous precedent. I stand by that… [A person] should decide whether or not he wants to wear a mask, or whether or not he should get a vaccine; not the government.”
It’s not a stretch to say a government that can force you to do something small “for your own good” would eventually try to control every aspect of your life for that same reason.
Of the many golden nuggets of wisdom my papaw has imparted to me over the years, one that often comes to mind is that “freedom is risk.”
In order to be truly free to succeed, you must be free to fail. Putting guardrails on freedom may keep the lows from bottoming out, but the inverse is also true.
To extend the axiom further, freedom is also risk management.
What’s riskier: contracting a virus with 99% survival rate or trashing the economy? How many businesses have closed on Sand Mountain since the shutdowns? How many are struggling still even after reopening due to half capacities and enforcing other safety guidelines?
With masks, lockdowns, etc., there are two separate issues that look like they’re the same: what people should do and what they must do.
Is it really too much to ask for people to wear a mask in a restaurant? Of course not, if “ask” is the operative word.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could force everyone to behave, to fall in line and not mess with the natural order of things, but your idea of utopia is probably different from mine and undoubtedly at odds with Big Brother.
I keep coming back to a quote by economist Thomas Sowell who said it’s not about right or wrong, but who decides. The only way to maintain independence is operate at the highest level of personal responsibility, be willing to take risks and accept consequences of failure. To do otherwise is self-inflicted servitude.
I can’t read his mind, but if Ainsworth took a turn for the worse, Heaven forbid, I doubt it would change his values. Death makes brothers of us all, and we have to keep on living until it comes for us, mask or not.
Daniel Taylor is news editor for The Reporter. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.