OPINION: Social distancing is a privilege

From left: Carrie Bramlette, Kelli Silva and her daughter wave their signs to protest the closure of Texas at the East Texas Freedom Coalitions protest at Tyler City Hall.

Ben Fenton

From left: Carrie Bramlette, Kelli Silva and her daughter wave their signs to protest the closure of Texas at the East Texas Freedom Coalition’s protest at Tyler City Hall.

When everyone had to go into quarantine, at first, I was angry. I lost the ability to see my friends, talk to my favorite teachers, and go out to different places like I used to. As things got worse, slowly, my summer plans were being canceled. All of the things I worked towards getting the ability to do were fading away. And I was in quarantine, still angry.

It took me until the number of deaths shot up and thousands of front line workers crying for help for me to realize how lucky I was to be in quarantine. And that was the problem, not just for me, but for everyone else around me.

We continue to go about our lives, unfazed about what’s going on in the world around us. When we are asked to do one thing, such as social distancing, we fail to do so because we don’t want our “rights” to be taken away. Until we witness thousands of innocent people die or our loved ones get their lives taken away, we suddenly care.

While hundreds of thousands of front line workers are putting their lives at risk for the rest of us to survive, we complain, we break the rules, and we protest. We don’t understand how much of a privilege it is for us to get the choice to stay home or go out. 

To this day, after a little over a month of being in quarantine because the situation is not getting any better, people are still going out, and it’s not because they have to save lives or keep essential stores running. They are going out to hang out with their friends, get haircuts, get tattoos, get their nails done, or go to the beach. They are there because they cannot seem to understand the kind of impact they can have while being selfish. 

What part of social distancing do people not understand? Are the lives of other people not a concern to you? Can you not wait any longer to have your piece of fun? Why do we need the loss of a loved one’s life for people to wake up?

I have friends and family putting their lives at risk so the inconsiderate people could finally go out one day. They are doing their part in flattening the curve, we need to do the same.

Lifting the restrictions or ignoring the rules will not fix anything in the long run. It’ll bring us back to where we started or even make things worse. Perhaps you’re lucky this time, but we’ve seen what could happen to those who don’t listen. Your “freedom” will only be so great until the worst happens. Will you still protest then?

If you are still going out for nonessential reasons—I’m talking about things that you won’t die from if you don’t do it, then you are the problem. This crisis will not get better unless you do your part. Even if you have to wait months to get your life back to normal, you are fine because everyone else is struggling along with you. You are not the only one and you have not earned special privileges. People do not deserve to die because of your thoughtless decisions.

Life will continue—life is still going on—after this pandemic is over. Your plans will resume. Things will get back to normal. You can finally get the haircut you desperately wanted. But this will only happen if you wait and understand that you have a privilege and you can use your privilege to do the right thing.