Guest Commentary From A Member Of The Pillar Citizen Community
Addio Pizzo: Lockdowns and the Duty of Grateful Americans
*Photo Credits: Aufkleberaktion by Komitee Addiopizzo is licensed under an Attribution License.
Next Thursday, Americans plan to recognize Thanksgiving by hosting a delicious feast. We will eat turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry salad, candied yams, and pumpkin pie. We will sit around our tables and thank God in the company of friends and family for the things He has given us. On this day, we thank him for our eternal home and for the blessings He gives us in our temporal ones, such as our families, our friends, and our country. We thank Him for our freedoms and liberties. We thank Him for the safety and protection that only He can provide. We thank Him for the peace that we enjoy, in spite of our difficulties.
This year, however, the governor tells us that many of our most beloved traditions are now supposedly illegal. As of Friday, 15 Colorado counties will be going into level red of COVID-19 restrictions. This means that our governor has forbidden you to have any personal gatherings. You must not invite friends to your house for Thanksgiving or go to a public park with them to play a pickup game. Your church may only meet at 25% capacity, with a limit of 50 persons. You must not go to a bar or eat inside a restaurant. You must not go to a concert, a play, or a conference. You should stay home. If it gets any worse, an even more stringent level of restriction is poised and ready. Why?
At first, the impulse to lockdown the population to stop the spread of a dangerous contagion seems a noble one. But we should ask ourselves; has it worked? Have mask mandates stopped the flu season? Did weeks of lockdown flatten the curve as promised? Have months of restrictions stopped everyone from getting the sniffles? No. They asked for the keys to our freedoms and we gave them up, expecting safety in return. When safety was not given, they blamed us. They needed more time. More cooperation. More funding. And we still haven’t eliminated the virus. Our governor is behaving himself like the boss of a mafia protection racket.
These lockdowns come at a great cost. Businesses and livelihoods are being destroyed forever by the careless pen strokes of politicians who think they know what’s best for everyone’s “safety”. Take, for example, Jesse and April Arellano. They moved to Castle Rock in 2013 and decided to open a coffee shop. After cleaning and scrubbing it every day for weeks, they opened their doors and were very successful. In 2019, they opened a second location in Colorado Springs. Then came Spring 2020, and it all crumbled. When the lockdown order came, they complied for weeks, losing money daily. On Mother’s Day, they opened their doors to a huge crowd of happy citizens. The health department responded by revoking their operating license. When the lockdown was over, they reclaimed their license and opened again. But the damage was already done. Jesse and April’s hard work had evaporated from before their eyes, and now both stores sit vacant-- testaments to the high price of government provided “safety” from a virus with a survival rate in the high nineties.
We should remember that in spite of the best intentions, decisions about the health of our families are not the government’s business. This is true whether you see the virus as a deadly threat, or if you see it like another version of the flu. As Americans, we have the right to decide for ourselves. Some will look at the risks from the virus, and decide it is safer to stay at home, close their businesses, and forgo the usual Thanksgiving traditions. Others will come to different conclusions and continue inviting friends and family to celebrate the holiday as usual. That decision is between you and your loved ones alone, and the government should not mandate our behavior in this regard. This freedom is a big part of what it means to be an American. This means we can come to different conclusions about important issues, and still live in peace. Our predecessors fought for this right, and so must we. It is both a political necessity and a moral obligation. To be quiet when we see tyranny growing is both cowardly and immoral. This is not about viruses, masks, or Thanksgiving. This is about our freedoms, and the freedoms of those who will come after us.
As Christians, we are called to respect our governing authorities. In our form of government, our leaders are subservient to both the Constitution and the people. When our leaders disregard their constitutional authority and use fear to expand their power, to comply with them is to join in their disrespect of our primary governing authority—the Constitution. God has historically called His people to seek the welfare of the nation in which they live. He has called us to be salt and light in the world. Is this compatible with allowing the destruction of the good at the hands of the evil? When you are convinced to do something for your health, do it. When the government tells you that you must do it whether you want to or not, that government is in violation of its source of power—the Constitution and the people. To comply with tyranny is to legitimatize it, and the prize for this cooperation is just further demands. Follow the results of this complacency to its historic ends, and you will find yourself under the thumb of control and oppression. God’s people stand for love, respect, and truth. When Caesar tries to interfere with our worship, families, and friends, he has gone too far. When Caesar acts unconstitutionally, he dishonors the governing authority that Christians are called to honor. And when Caesar tells lies to propagate fear, he reveals his motives are neither loving nor respectful. We are to render unto Caesar what is his—nothing more. I cannot in good conscience go along with such evil.
Nothing will ever stop the people of God from giving Him thanks. And as Americans, we have a lot to be thankful for. Because of this, I believe it would be foolish to commemorate the occasion by giving away our freedoms on a day that we should be thanking God for them. Next Thursday, I will be thanking God for our rights to join with a crowd of friends and neighbors in our own house. I will be thanking God for the air that we can breathe unobstructed. These are our rights, and I hope I will not be alone in utilizing them.
P.S. The photo is in reference to the mafia protection rackets in Italy. Business owners are rising up against the oppression of the mafia, or the "pizzo." It reads, in English, "An entire people who pay the protection money are a people without dignity." Their movement is called "addio pizzo," which means "goodbye mafia.” Almost every business in Sicily used to pay the protection fee and feared what would happen if they refused. The group started with just five people but grew rapidly. Now, each morning, hundreds of united business owners in Sicily proudly open their doors without fearing the footfalls of the mafia coming to collect extortion money.