“I don’t give a damn about politics right now . . . there are people worrying about feeding their families and paying their mortgage.”
Thus Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, takes the first bold step toward reopening the state after several weeks of quarantine, which has caused thousands of people to lose their jobs and driven thousands more to the brink, as the governor noted, of losing businesses they had poured their whole lives into building.
From the first day the state was “shut down” this day was coming, and the governor was going to be wrong in the eyes of half the people no matter when that day came — and I put “shut down” in quotation marks because when you can go with your whole family to Walmart and Target and Lowes and Piggly Wiggly any time you want, the state is not really shut down.
Gov. Kemp, like 49 other U.S. governors and the president of the United States, is facing the most classic “damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t” scenario since Pilate washed his hands over the whole Jesus situation.
We have a deadly and contagious virus washing across our land. People are contracting the virus. People are dying. This is happening in much higher concentrations in some areas of Georgia than others and much more among certain demographic groups than others. It is not a one-size-fits-all kind of disease. Although all of us are at risk, some of us are at greater risk than others.
And yet, if the economy of Georgia completely collapses, as it could easily do if we do not reopen the economy in a timely manner, the rain of economic disaster will fall on all people. That’s the dilemma the governor faced. He made a decision. HE made a decision. He didn’t take a Facebook poll — thank goodness. HE made a decision.
And now, SOME businesses will be allowed to open this Friday and some others will be allowed to open on Monday. And some people are acting like Brian Kemp has signed their own personal death warrants.
Let him who has ears hear. The governor said hair dressers COULD go back to work, if they met 20 different conditions. He did not mandate that a SINGLE ONE OF US has to go to a hair salon — or a gym, or a bowling alley or a theater or out to eat. Nada. Not one of us has to leave our home. Nobody has to go anywhere.
In fact, he clearly stated that if you are in that group that is of higher risk, like over 65, for instance, or obese or you’re battling an illness like cancer — I qualify for all three — then you should continue to shelter in place, at least until the middle of May.
Again, he said Georgians COULD go out, not that they should or that they had to.
And he urged us to use common sense in deciding whether church meetings and such gatherings will take place. Of course, common sense is an uncommon commodity these days.
Another important point here is that the whole quarantine deal was never intended to make sure that people would never be exposed to the virus. It is not going away that fast and we could never have stayed shut down until it did — or until we have a foolproof treatment or vaccine. If we had stayed shut down until that point, we wouldn’t have had an economy to go back to.
The purpose was to flatten the crest of the wave until we had enough ventilators, hospital beds, etc. to care for the people who needed caring for when the crest of the wave hit. Our medical professionals and scientists tell us that the crest occurred on April 7.
I trust the scientists and medical professionals that are advising Gov. Kemp more than I trust random social media posters that, on the same days they posted, “Brian Kemp is an idiot” posted that “KFC changed its corporate name last week because they no longer sell ‘chicken’ but genetically engineered animals that do not have beaks or feathers.”
Once again. If you do not feel safe, stay at home. Stay at home. Stay at home. Nobody will come to your house and force you to go out in public. At some point we have to take responsibility for our own lives. The government is not your daddy. Period.
I do not know if Gov. Kemp has made the right call. Neither do you. Only time will tell. But the call was his to make, and he made it. I know for a fact that he made it prayerfully and with the good of the entire state of Georgia in mind.
That’s about as good as he could be asked to do. That’s as good as anybody could be asked to do.