To be sure, the relationship between security and freedom is always fraught with questions of boundaries. This has never been more true than these past years since 9/11.
The Patriot Act was implemented in the wake of those attacks, and provided for the unprecedented ability of the federal government to conduct surveillance in response to the new reality of terrorism.
The Patriot Act was controversial, more about its enabling of intrusion into privacy than its basic idea of keeping us safe. Now we face a global health crisis unseen in scope since 1918.
The same question of personal liberty vs. our collective safety comes to the forefront as measures seen by some as excessive are necessarily taken. It is important to be able to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical.
The only way to stop the COVID-19 pandemic is to prevent transmission between people. There is no alternative.
If people refuse of their own volition to adopt behaviors that are consistent with the goal of defeating the crisis, then laws, rules and policies will need to be created for the benefit of all, regardless of an individual’s antipathy.
The good of the whole is at the heart of why human communities form governments. Thomas Jefferson, in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, unequivocally states what he believes government’s role is: to “effect the safety and happiness” of the citizens, who by their consent allow themselves to be so governed.
We should definitely be concerned and ever-vigilant about our freedoms.
The best way to ensure them is to vote for those who will represent us with the proper attitude of balancing our liberty with our safety and well-being, which are not mutually exclusive.
Royce Fujimoto is a resident of Lihu‘e.