Rex Smith| The New York Times
It is a season of wonder and hope. For some, the wonder propelling it all is the manger, the event that gave rise to our celebration of Christmas. For all of us, surely, the specific hope we embrace most fervently right now is that this dark winter of pandemic will yield to recovery before too long.
But there are other ways to think of wonder and hope, and they can be found on a quite practical level.
President-elect Joe Biden bluntly reminded us Tuesday that, even as we near the end of the deadliest year in American history, Our darkest days in the battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us. Painful as it is to weigh that, I take hope from a leader who tells us the truth. It is a welcome change.
Americans are a mostly resilient lot. A new poll from Axios reveals that one-third of us expect our physical and mental health, as well as our finances, to improve in 2021. Thats hope worth savoring and encouraging.
Lets be amateur linguists for a moment, though, and use that word hope not as a noun meaning what we have faith will occur, but as a verb implying what we want. Heres what I hope: I hope people will do the right thing to help us escape this pandemic. And to minimize our losses as much as possible in the months before widespread distribution of the vaccine protects us, public health experts offer simple requests: Wear a mask and stay away from other people.
That will protect our loved ones, our co-workers, strangers and ourselves. It is ungenerous to behave otherwise.
So while were changing the use of words English is fun! lets get back to wonder. As a verb meaning something one ponders, heres what I wonder: You people who refuse to wear a mask, what are you thinking?
Youve got to wonder, for example, about the maskless mass in a conga line at a party in Queens earlier this month of the Whitestone Republican Club. A video of the party has been shared 3.5 million times, drawing criticism and ridicule. COVID conga lines are not smart, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.
To that, the club responded with a statement that cited members First Amendment rights. Adults have the absolute right to make their own decisions, the group said, and clearly many chose to interact like normal humans and not paranoid zombies in hazmat suits.
Cute hyperbole, but thats not the choice. Our constitution protects our rights, but theres more at stake here than the freedom of a bunch of over-served bit-part politicos to wiggle to the BeeGees in a bar.
Americans won the right to equality and freedom of speech, religion and the press, in part because our founders were influenced by the political philosophy of the Enlightenment. In that period, from roughly the mid-1600s to the beginning of the 19th century, ideas such as liberty, tolerance and the value of constitutional government developed, undermining the authority of royalty and church hierarchy. The Enlightenment brought an emphasis on the scientific method as an alternative to religious dogma.
Of course, there was pushback. Many people said that a world ruled by reason would be soulless and immoral. Science only seemed to rule the world, they said, because people were looking at it through a scientific lens, rather than a spiritual one.
There are those who argue that we are still locked in those arguments. In the recently-released book Patriots of Two Nations, Spencer Critchley links the Counter-Enlightenment philosophy to conflicts throughout American history, culminating in the presidency of Donald Trump.
To his most committed followers, it makes no difference when Trump makes no sense, Critchley writes. In fact, not making sense can be the point, when the enemy is seen as both relentlessly sense-making and spiritually empty.
Take, for example, Trumps dismissal of scientists conclusion that climate change played a role in this falls historic California wildfires. The president said the world would soon start to cool naturally; when he was reminded that science showed otherwise, he replied, I dont think science knows, actually.
To many supporters, the obvious lies that Trump spouts continuously matter less than the fact that hes speaking to a sort of higher truth: what they identify as a spirit of America. And when the president holds White House gatherings that turn into COVID-19 super-spreader events, to many supporters it exemplifies the overarching value of freedom in our national charter and serves as an example to be followed.
In a civil society, though, our security depends upon protecting one another, and equating selfishness to freedom mocks our heritage. Civilization is first of all a moral thing, the French philosopher Henri Amiel wrote in the mid-19th century. Without truth, respect for duty, love of neighbor, virtue, everything is destroyed. The morality of society is alone the basis of civilization.
Morality requires protecting each other as we can. Right now that means, simply, masking and distancing. In this season of hope, I wonder: Isnt that the least we must do?
Rex Smith writes for The New York Times.
Read the original post:
Smith: Small steps to bring hope and wonder - The Register-Guard
- Trump Impeachment Trial And The 1st Amendment Debate : Trump Impeachment Trial: Live Updates - NPR - February 14th, 2021
- Trumps claim impeachment violates the 1st Amendment and Brandenburg v. Ohio, explained - Vox.com - February 14th, 2021
- WATCH: Trump not protected by First Amendment for inciting insurrection, Rep. Raskin says - PBS NewsHour - February 14th, 2021
- The Insurrection, Police Accountability, and the First Amendment - brennancenter.org - February 14th, 2021
- Opinion: Guns shouldn't trump the First Amendment - The Missouri Times - February 14th, 2021
- Comment: Trump's lawyers have it wrong on First Amendment, too | HeraldNet.com - The Daily Herald - February 14th, 2021
- Highlights of Day 4 of the Trump Impeachment Trial - The New York Times - February 14th, 2021
- The Atlantic The Great Free-Speech Reversal - The Atlantic - January 29th, 2021
- First Ammendment Rights What Is the First Ammendment? - Reader's Digest - January 29th, 2021
- [OPINION] Does the First Amendment apply to what you post on social media? - Asian Journal News - January 29th, 2021
- Amanda Gorman's lyrical promise of the First Amendment - Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era - January 29th, 2021
- Oh, so you really want me to talk about the First Amendment, eh? (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN) - The Trentonian - January 29th, 2021
- Other View: First Amendment doesn't apply to Twitter, Facebook - Duluth News Tribune - January 29th, 2021
- Let's clear up needless confusion about the First Amendment - Oskaloosa Herald - January 29th, 2021
- Letter: Inauguration, and the First Amendment | Letters to the Editor | tucson.com - Arizona Daily Star - January 29th, 2021
- Might Federal Preemption of Speech-Protective State Laws Violate the First Amendment? - Reason - January 29th, 2021
- The Buckeye Institute Files First Amendment Case on Behalf of Ohio Guidance Counselor - Buckeye Institute - January 29th, 2021
- The First Amendment won't save Trump - Salon - January 29th, 2021
- Absolute Freedom to Tweet? Employers (and the NLRA) May Have Something to Say About It - JD Supra - January 29th, 2021
- I'm a First Amendment scholar and I think Big Tech should be left alone - The Conversation US - January 23rd, 2021
- Letter to the editor: Put the First Amendment first - Daily Mississippian - January 23rd, 2021
- Napolitano: Does the First Amendment restrain Big Tech? - Daily Herald - January 23rd, 2021
- Do Critics of Police Have the First Amendment Procedural Protections That Nazis Get? - Reason - January 23rd, 2021
- Ask the expert: The First Amendment and free speech - MSUToday - January 23rd, 2021
- Letter: To everyone, including friends and family members, who feel First Amendment rights are being denied - Sumter Item - January 23rd, 2021
- Knight Institute Urges Supreme Court To Preserve Ruling That Trump Violated First Amendment 01/25/2021 - MediaPost Communications - January 23rd, 2021
- Do Social Media Companies Have Too Much Power Over The First Amendment? - WFAE - January 23rd, 2021
- What the First Amendment Really Says About Whether Trump Incited the Capitol Riot - Slate - January 23rd, 2021
- Ask the Lawyer: There is no First Amendment right to social media use - The Oakland Press - January 23rd, 2021
- Permit Requirements for Filming in National Parks Violate First Amendment - Reason - January 23rd, 2021
- Does the First Amendment protect you on social media? - RADIO.COM - January 23rd, 2021
- Simpson sues Board of Elections, claims dismissal violated First Amendment rights - Greensboro News & Record - January 23rd, 2021
- What does the day after Section 230 reform look like? - Brookings Institution - January 23rd, 2021
- Twitter and Facebook Just Proved That Deplatforming Works - The Nation - January 23rd, 2021
- Afternoon Briefs: SCOTUS will consider cheerleader's First Amendment case; former AG dies at 88 - ABA Journal - January 5th, 2021
- No Blanket Protection for Internet Platforms - The Wall Street Journal - January 5th, 2021
- Walsh Vetoes Ordinance That Would Restrict Police Use Of Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets - WBUR - January 5th, 2021
- Happy new and old year: 2020 just won't go away when it comes to first amendment issues in 2021 - Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era - January 5th, 2021
- Far-Right VA State Senator Claims huge victory for the First Amendment and for open access to government for all Virginians. Except That the Court... - January 5th, 2021
- Will You Save Money On Hospital Bills With New Price Transparency Rule? : Shots - Health News - NPR - January 5th, 2021
- "I am asking Washingtonians and those who live in the region to stay out of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and not to engage with... - January 5th, 2021
- Julian Assange Extradition to U.S. Blocked Over Mental Health Concerns - The New York Times - January 5th, 2021
- The First Amendment is under siege and most Americans know it - The Central New York Business Journal - December 30th, 2020
- First Circuit Creates Exception To Massachusetts Wiretap Statute Based On First Amendment Rights, Allows Citizens And Press To Record Police Activity... - December 30th, 2020
- First Circuit Appeals Court Reaffirms Its 2011 Decision: The First Amendment Protects The Recording Of Cops - Techdirt - December 30th, 2020
- New Year's Eve In The Year Of The Coronavirus - The Rhino Times of Greensboro - The Rhino TImes - December 30th, 2020
- On Religion: COVID was year's top religion story. But which story? - Tahlequah Daily Press - December 30th, 2020
- How Lin Wood Became a Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theorist - The New York Times - December 30th, 2020
- The Year That Changed the Internet - The Atlantic - December 30th, 2020
- Section 230 Isn't A Subsidy; It's A Rule Of Civil Procedure - Techdirt - December 30th, 2020
- 7 Recommendations for the New Year - Contracting Business - December 30th, 2020
- Court Enjoins Enforcement of Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping Executive Order for Federal Contractors and Grantees - JD Supra - December 30th, 2020
- COOMBES: Put the First Amendment first - University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily - October 12th, 2020
- Did the First Amendment to the Constitution lay the foundation for an authoritarian state? - The Indian Express - October 12th, 2020
- First Amendment Right to Record Child-Protection Visit to Your Home - Reason - October 12th, 2020
- First Amendment scholars weigh in on legality of Terminal Tower Biden Harris light display - cleveland.com - October 12th, 2020
- Use of Trademarks in Creative Works & Lanham Act Liability - The National Law Review - October 12th, 2020
- 'Introduction to the First Amendment Museum' topic of presentation - Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel - October 12th, 2020
- Judge amy coney barrett and the First Amendment - Lexology - October 12th, 2020
- A vote for Trump is a vote against the First Amendment - Poughkeepsie Journal - October 12th, 2020
- Trump Admin. Says First Amendment Is Moot In WeChat Case - Law360 - October 12th, 2020
- You Shouldn't Get Sued for Petitioning the Government - Cato Institute - October 12th, 2020
- Reporters Committee welcomes Inasmuch Foundation Legal Fellow - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - October 12th, 2020
- FIRST 5: Trump and COVID-19 -- How 'free' are/should we be? - Salina Post - October 12th, 2020
- Candidates and voters alike suffer as yard signs are targeted for theft and vandalism - Burlington Hawk Eye - October 12th, 2020
- Letters to the Editor: The First Amendment in Rio Rancho - Albuquerque Journal - September 21st, 2020
- Texas A&M University Introduces First Amendment Website - Texas A&M University Today - September 21st, 2020
- Attorney on first amendment rights of protesters: The government must protect these rights - RochesterFirst - September 21st, 2020
- Polk County GOP chairperson gathering signatures in support of a Second Amendment Designated County - Grand Forks Herald - September 21st, 2020
- Health officials urge people who attended Trump rally on Saturday to get tested for coronavirus - The Fayetteville Observer - September 21st, 2020
- Potsdam 'toilet gardens' will stay, for now, as federal judge grants injunction in toilet case - NNY360 - September 21st, 2020
- This Week at The Ninth: Informational Injury and Union Dues - JD Supra - September 21st, 2020
- Even with a Recent Lag, Special Interest PACs Enjoy Big Fundraising Edge Over Parties - InsiderNJ - September 21st, 2020
- Readers respond: Racists coming out of the woodwork - oregonlive.com - September 21st, 2020
- WeChat and TikTok Sanctions Not to Came Into Effect Yesterday - JD Supra - September 21st, 2020
- The Oklahoma Meat Consumer Protection Act is Meat Lobby's Response to the Increased Consumer Demand for Plant-Based Options - vegconomist - the vegan... - September 21st, 2020
- Army esports team denies accusations of violating First Amendment, offering fake giveaways - ArmyTimes.com - July 21st, 2020
- FIRST FIVE: Fighting over the meaning of First Amendment freedoms - hays Post - July 21st, 2020
- My View: In Provincetown, strange views of the First Amendment - Wicked Local Provincetown - July 21st, 2020
- John Bolton Gambles That Constitution Will Save Profits on Book That Was Embarrassing to the President - Law & Crime - July 21st, 2020