All over Canada, authorities have been putting strict measures in place in response to the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Many of the measures consist of

  • limiting in-person gathering numbers (including religious gatherings)
  • forcing people to work from home
  • cancelling in-person schooling and extending the Christmas break
  • closing down small businesses
  • limiting large retailers

And some governments are even going as far as interrupting supply chains by forcing retailers to sell only “essential” products.

This week, my home province of Alberta moved to a Medical State of Emergency for the second time this year. This gives a lot of power to the government for implementing more restrictions. It does this through bypassing the legislature. In short, the most apparently hesitant province to launch lock down measures seems to be succumbing to the trend. Understandably so; people are dying. With all this in mind, I have a question:

Is there a correlation between freedom and death?

It seems to me that a fear of death is the ultimate motivating factor behind restrictions which limit personal freedoms substantially. These same freedoms, history teaches us, are worth dying for. Are we willing to let go of freedom for fear of death?

I can’t answer that question for you; only you can. But whatever your answer is, you’ll need to be ready to deal with its consequences. Understand that you enjoy your freedoms because someone in the past answered the same question. They were willing to live, or die, with the consequences that comes with acting upon their conviction.

Their action, or inaction, was their answer.

Freedom is the most coveted concept in human history. It has been a major motivating factor behind all wars, revolutions and reformations. The pursuit of freedom is what makes some religious… and others atheists. Some have killed in the name of freedom; others have died in the name of freedom. The consequences are great, because the cost of freedom is, itself, great!

Is it only now that we’re concerned? Only after observing the effects of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic? Are we only now witnessing freedom slowly stripped away without a fight? And should we start some sort of revolt against the authority to fight for our freedoms?

Is it even wise to consider those questions?

I need to be clear; this is not a call for a revolt. I’m simply sharing my thoughts and inviting the readers to interact with our current events in light of history.

There are three lessons from history we must consider as we try to answer the above question(s).

First, freedom is not stripped away overnight. It’s usually a gradual process. When freedom erodes, there is usually some greater cause for “unity” than freedom itself. This release of freedom is usually accompanied by promised freedom at the end goal.

Second, governments rarely release increased power after tasting power’s full potential. This is true even when the motivation for increasing government power seems right.

Third, the fear of death only leads to enslavement. The freedom which Western societies enjoy was not gained through the fear of death. Freedom was achieved because people feared living under oppression.

Is the fear and threat of COVID-19 making us forget these three lessons from history?