In an era in which every dubious decision is “due to COVID-19,” we hear policymakers repeating the same mantra: “If just one life is saved,” it’s worth relinquishing our freedoms, our sanity, and possibly our future. More often than not, this ethical dilemma is presented without mentioning the obvious trade-offs or long-term consequences.
Imagine you’re an administrative dictator. If you could “save just one life” — or even thousands — by crippling the youth, vaporizing a million careers, wiping out small businesses, crushing your nation’s civic culture, severing the ancient continuity of religious rites, forcing healthy people into paranoid isolation, traumatizing an entire generation with viral terror, ending hugs and handshakes, depriving the elderly of intimate care in their final days, wrecking the national economy, unleashing a dystopian surveillance state, and turning your neighbors into neurotic germaphobes, would it be worth it? It’s a serious question. What if that “one life” was your grandpa?
If my own grandfather had lived to see the destructive madness surrounding the Wuhan virus crisis, he’d no doubt light