• Hannah Bunch

Feeling Wobbly, America?

If you’re feeling a little wobbly, you’re not alone. COVID-19, the coronavirus, or my personal favorite ‘The Rona,’ has wreaked havoc across the globe both in a physical and financial sense. This has naturally progressed into an emotional and mental health crisis as well. It’s sent our recent booming economy into a decline. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the “unemployment rate (was) 2.0 percent for college grads, 3.8 percent for high school grads in January 2020.”

Personally, I am not eager to see what it is now or projected to be in the coming months. I have many friends graduating college this year who are understandably anxious about their future in the workforce. Of course that is just one of the many groups of people facing fear and uncertainty right now. But enough with the bad news. You are already familiar with it. Too familiar.

A Different Crisis, A Different Decade

Instead, I want to share some much needed admonishment from a woman I wish was still around to be a leader on the world stage. This woman being Margaret Thatcher, otherwise known as The Iron Lady and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. On a political and personal level this is a pep talk I think many of us need. So travel back with me to thirty years ago where it took place.

It’s 1990 and world leaders were beginning to turn their attention from the Cold War, onto a developing threat, Sadam Hussein and more generally, organized terrorism like never before seen. Now, for Millennials and Generation Z the age of terror is something we have lived under for either most of our lives or all of it. For these leaders, it was the new threat to hone in on. For Thatcher it was a time she lost friends such as former ally, King Hussein of Jordan (not to be confused with Saddam Hussein) and a time she had to reaffirm friends’ resolve who shouldn’t need it, such as President Bush. Longstanding allies, like the U.S., went from demanding the enemy (the Soviets) to “tear down this wall” to questioning what extent they should address their growing foe. During a pivotal moment, when deciding how to officially address Saddam Hussein on a phone call with President Bush, Thatcher famously told our President, “remember, George, this is no time to go wobbly.” (https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/110711)

Now whether you agree the actions that followed were right, wise, or profitable is one thing. But in the midst of change, pain, and exhaustion, Thatcher was ready to stand firm in what her conscience dictated. Do you think it was exciting to be close to ending the Cold War only to realize many more adversaries were ready to take up the rest of unclaimed appointments in her planner? I think not. Yet, the United Kingdom’s Iron Lady set her face like a flint and steadied on.

Our Current Crisis

Wait, what exactly does wobbly mean? Glad you asked! Lexico, powered by Oxford, gives readers a few definitions. Here are three:

  1. Tending to move unsteadily from side to side.

  2. (of a person or their legs) weak and unsteady from illness, tiredness, or anxiety.

  3. (of a person, action or state) uncertain, wavering, or insecure.

We are witnessing wobbliness as defined above in our politicians when it comes to when our rights should/ should not be protected. Now, we shouldn’t be surprised by the actions of politicians who are not defenders of liberty. These leaders adverse to freedom are not wobbling. Their footing is sure and steady. Who we should be concerned about are those who speak of defending our constitutional rights during “peaceful” times, but get wobbly during times of crisis.

But let’s get personal. What are your thoughts as we weigh the cost of security vs. freedom? As our country attempts to address the pandemic we are hearing arguments from all sides about what the government should and should not be allowed to do during a crisis. In the news we hear of people who are abusing their liberty and being completely reckless, to seeing Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan take serious actions many see as unconstitutional, to local law enforcement in Greenville, Mississippi shut down a church’s drive-in service that kept in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines.

Are you digging deep and wrestling with your conscience on what is true and right? Are you letting faith in our foundation dictate your thinking or your fear? Are you secure in our Constitution, the wisdom of our Founders and Framers, or is that confidence wavering in the face of adversity? It can be difficult to answer these questions as you budget tightly, face the reality of death in a whole new way, job search, and navigate this season socially disconnected, but don’t let the anxiety and weariness sway you from side to side. This doesn’t mean you’re weak for feeling fear. What I am encouraging you to do is to not go wobbly. You can feel anxiety, without letting it rule you.

How America exits out of this tumultuous time will set us on course to simply be stronger or weaker. This is in no way a call to be an armchair quarterback, blindly criticizing every effort to keep our nation safe and healthy. This is a warning to keep your eyes wide open and count the cost. This IS a call to be an active citizen using your own ears, eyes, brain, and heart to ponder what are acceptable actions from our government and what are not. As John Milton said, “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

If we move unsteadily, weakly, feeling insecure of whether or not our rights have a place in the midst of a pandemic, then perhaps slowly, but surely we will fall. But if individuals show grit and resolve in their personal lives in the midst of a crisis and its after effects, then maybe our elected officials will too.

Either way, America, it’s no time to go wobbly. Our foundation, rooted in liberty, is a firm one. Steady on. You got this.

Article by Hannah Bunch

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