Freedom is Not License. Wear a Mask.

At NCR, Mike Jordan Laskey  writes:

Many people who have resisted restrictive measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus object to what they see as government overreach, causing an unjust curtailing of essential freedoms….

As a Catholic committed to the common good, these arguments drive me crazy. To me, it’s pretty straightforward: stay home as much as possible, wear a mask and practice social distancing to protect the lives of those who are most vulnerable to the virus….

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a lovely section on human freedom, believe it or not.

“The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes,” reads paragraph 1733. “There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just.”

That word “just” at the end of the passage catches my eye. Justice is all about strong, positive relationships between individual people and communities. Or, as philosopher and theologian Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Choices that show love for others — especially those who are most vulnerable — are instances of real freedom. On the other hand, choices rooted in a desire to do what I want, when I want it, without regard for how my decisions might impact others are not what freedom looks like….

The Catholic vision of freedom is countercultural in our individualistic, consumerist society. And it often feels like we cede the concept to those who argue that freedom is the liberty to do what you want. I think we should be proud of our own vision and proclaim it more boldly. It’s a compelling invitation to faith: God gave us this beautiful gift of free will and we have the privilege to use it to make the world better. It’s demanding of people, yes, but the sort of demand makes life meaningful.