To Be Conservative in a Pandemic

It was a post I saw on social media. It went something like this: Conservatives favor states’ rights–until now.

The commentator pointed out what seemed to be an inconsistency between the view that decisions made about reopening America’s economy should happen on a smaller scale rather than a larger one.

A states’ rights argument would make the case for allowing decisions about opening up our economy at the state level, rather than from Washington.

In the meantime, residents, usually conservative, of numerous states protest stay-at-home mandates these governors have maintained, even as some states like Washington and California (also governed by Democrats) begin to open up. .

This conflict touches upon the disputes that are flashpoints across our country and go beyond shutting down tiny communities with minuscule coronavirus rates.

The conflict is already there. The coronavirus is highlighting, without, we hope, regard to party loyalty, the inability (or refusal) to consider that governing a diverse population may require a conciliatory or at least diversified approach.

The term “states’ rights” came about during a time when America was largely rural. We think immediately of the issue of slavery and its inherent injustice. Ironically, the states looking to claim their rights found an injustice in having Washington tell them what to do.

Now our disputes are largely about education, gun rights, abortion, and social engineering.

Russell Kirk points to local governance as a pillar of conservativism: “[C]onservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. Although Americans have been attached strongly to privacy and private rights, they also have been a people conspicuous for a successful spirit of community. In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily.” 

And more from Kirk: “[T]he conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions. Politically speaking, power is the ability to do as one likes, regardless of the wills of one’s fellows. A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic.”

That is the basis for the conservative call to make decisions at a local level. Perhaps “states’ rights” is a misnomer for an even bigger idea.

With such division today between city and country mentalities and populations, local control would seem to be the solution to many ills.

It is the unspoken concern that draws us to November. And beyond.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Getting Ready for the Future

In the grocery store on Friday afternoon. It was Friday the 13th. The day local children found out they would have 10 “snow days” without snow. It was 62 degrees outside. A lucky day?

It was unlike any other trip to the grocery store in my memory, even at Christmas, even before an actual big snowstorm.

Not a roll of toilet paper to be seen. A lone, dented can of green beans sat on a shelf whose contents had been reduced to peas, corn, and some Lima beans. I was not surprised to see the canned peas remained. My husband was not surprised to see Lima beans left behind.

This event–the pandemic of 2020–is bigger than Y2K was because we knew Y2K was coming. We had months to load up on canned goods and toilet paper then. But Y2K never played out.

The coronavirus sneaked up on us in the last few weeks. And while Y2K could have meant global disruption, this one still seemed far away even as it makes its way closer and closer to home.

What surprised me the most at the store was the mood. It was like a holiday. I know it hasn’t been that way everywhere else. This store had no more toilet paper to fight over. But no one seemed to be in a fighting mood.

The checkout lady was in a chipper mood–even as she told me, “It’s been like this for three days.” She must have been exhausted–yet she seemed energized.

The kids–it was late afternoon–already knew they would have no school for two whole weeks. We haven’t had a snow day this year, not even a delay. And now a two-week break. It’s one we won’t have to make up because it’s an emergency. For kids, it’s like an extremely late, very nice Christmas gift.

The attitude within the store smacked of joy. People laughed. They seemed to be getting in one more party–one big community social event–before solitude descends upon us–but somehow not a solitude to regret or begrudge.

There have been no cases of coronavirus confirmed in our area. Yet.

Yet we know it’s coming. It’s just a matter of time. So how do we handle this time?

My own class of high school students received no holiday from me. I assigned work for them to do at home–just in case. And now just in case has come to pass. Most of them are preparing for a high-stakes test–the Advanced Placement test.

The test won’t care that they missed school for two weeks. The test won’t care that they lived a piece of history that won’t require them to make up the days–make-up days that ironically would happen after the test.

There’s a moment in the movie A Quiet Place that comes back to me. Invading monsters kill anything that makes noise. Yet a mother silently teaches her son math. She prepares him for the future even while death looms on the doorstep.

We don’t teach for diversion as impending disaster awaits. We teach to prepare for what will come. For whatever will come.

So extended spring vacation or no, my students will face this test. Success or failure on test day will not significantly affect their lives. Success is encouraging and there are perks–like perhaps getting college credit. Not getting the score you hoped for is disappointing. But either way, we move on to the next test life will provide.

And they will face bigger tests. Real-life trials that may affect them deeply.

When they face those trials, I hope they will find the spirit I saw in a crowd of people in a grocery store getting ready for a challenge that has slowly surrounded us and seems destined to invade our smaller world.

It’s the spirit I hope we all choose.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”