Letter to the Editor

In life, there are many roads that one can travel, but the only roads that one personally knows are the ones that one has traveled. The experience of traveling a road will also form a bond with others who have traveled the same road or a very similar road, even if their experience is notably different. There are some roads that no one wants to travel and there are some roads that all of us will travel. This spring, the Coronavirus put a detour in our path, and it sent all of us down a road that we did not want to travel. The Coronavirus interfered with and re-prioritized our daily life. Our responses individually and collectively were actions to protect ourselves and to slow/stop the spread of the virus to save lives. It started with the news and soon it took over the conversations, interrupted our thoughts, and then it limited and changed where we could go and what we could do. The “shelter in place” and “social distancing” led to the shutting down of schools, sporting events, non-essential businesses, and public gatherings. If we ventured out of our confinement, we were asked or told to wear a mask and keep an imaginary six-foot clearance from others.

Everything that we touched was to be considered contaminated and it needed to be sanitized before we or others could safely use it. It was as though we had the Coronavirus and needed to be quarantined. What permanent social and political changes will remain when this is over, is uncertain, but there will be political, public, and private changes to social gatherings. Changes will be put in place that will influence generations to follow. Just as all the major events in our nation’s history have done. Events such as the Civil War, 911, the economic depression of 1929-1939, the Atomic Bomb, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, etc. have changed and modified our way of life. Some of the changes only lasted for short periods like rationing; whereas, others have remained and altered our nation ever since. Some have led to beneficial legislation such as the creation of Social Security, a volunteer army and improvements in civil rights; whereas, others are just an inconvenience like airport security. But the impact of Coronavirus is of a different magnitude. The only way to stop the spread of an infectious disease quickly is social tracking so that all those that an infected person may have infected can be identified, rounded up, and quarantined.

The problem with tracking our every move is that it puts crosshairs focused on every one of us in the hands of the government. The power to know where everyone is all the time; to know who we contact and how long we are with them. This power would end privacy and the anonymity of one’s personal life. Some people say “What do you have to be afraid of if you have not done anything wrong?” For good reason, our system of the government was built on a distrust of those in authority and that limiting and dividing that authority was necessary for the people under that government to remain free. That principle of limiting and dividing authority over us still applies to government and it should also apply to businesses. The only difference between trust and entrapment is what is at the other end of one’s trust. 

Terry O’Neill, Lake Geneva resident, and former alderperson  

Sign up for Updates