COVID-19 has been wreaking devastation throughout the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) notes that deaths in the United States due to the coronavirus are now well above 800,000.
The CDC notes a slight downward trend in total cases and deaths but reports that community transmission is high in nearly every state.
Law Enforcement Related Headlines
Due to the coronavirus, there are headlines throughout the nation including ones specific to the ethical protectors of our communities — our law enforcement professionals.
Here are a few recent headlines, some with subtitles, spotlighting the crisis:
- Hundreds of Police Officers Have Died From Covid. Vaccines Remain a Hard Sell. Far more law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19 than from any other work-related cause in 2020 and 2021. Even so, unions are fighting vaccine mandates.
- NYPD Chief in Covid Plea With 1/3 Force Still Unvaccinated, 8 in Hospital
- NJ officials say they won’t force police, other first responders to get the COVID vaccine
- Police Officers Resist Getting Vaccinated For COVID-19, Now Their No. 1 Killer. The disease is the leading cause of death among police, surpassing gunfire, but resistance persists.
- Will a City Mandate Cause Thousands of Unvaccinated L.A. Cops to Walk Off the Job? We’re About to Find Out.
- Get Police Vaccinated. And prison guards, and jail workers, and anyone else charged with protecting the public’s safety.
- Judge denies Massachusetts state police union’s attempt to block COVID-19 vaccine mandate
Suspending the deadline for union members to obtain full vaccination would be against the public interest, which the defendants are charged with protecting.
Respecting All Dedicated to Protect and Serve
Before continuing, despite the controversy of vaccinations vs. anti-vaccinations, it is imperative to express my profound respect for all law enforcement dedicated to safeguarding our communities.
There are immense challenges for law enforcement — constant headlines and tragic breaking news, including officers placing themselves in danger during active shooter incidents. There are countless acts of heroism and tragically too many heartbreaking stories of fallen officers as well.
These protectors are the guardians of our families and communities. They are essential to the morale, security and safety of America.
All privileged to call America home must be grateful for their service, and remember be committed to shared responsibility — police and community members must be united to safeguarding communities.
We must also encourage our police to protect themselves, not only from the visible dangers in communities. We must assist to protect them from the invisible dangers of the coronavirus.
True Freedom Honors The Common Good
In my opinion, there is a misunderstanding of the meaning of freedom.
True freedom honors the common good. Freedom is the responsibility of doing what is right ethically and morally — for ourselves and society.
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the order of the day is to protect ourselves and the common good — agencies, families, communities and the nation. This protection is only possible when the guardians of society protect themselves.
Yes, it is irrefutable that we have personal freedoms. Yet, our freedoms must never violate the natural law — protecting oneself and the rights of all of society to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
It must also be noted that paradoxically, the vaccine offers freedom. It protects the vaccinated with a higher probability of protection for self, family and community.
Freedom Demands Justice For Others
To better understand the response necessary to our public safety crisis, we must review the timeless philosophical wisdom of Thomas Aquinas on justice, memorialized in his “Summa Theologiae.”
Aquinas teaches that the human person is inherently relational, and our actions influence others.
Every act is relational, and must always be guided by the moral principles of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.
Justice, for instance, demands that we render each one in society what they are due by the natural law and civil law.
Justice expresses itself by honoring the welfare of each person, all of whom have a legitimate right to the effects of this virtue.
The seat of justice is in the will, but it must be expressed through action, and it must never be violated by selfishness, ignorance, pride or arrogance.
Conversely, justice is expressed through respect, humility and honoring the rights of others.
Although Aquinas formulated his principles on freedom more than 700 years ago, they are timeless, indefatigable and applicable to America now.
Our nation will conquer the coronavirus when we honor the common good, remembering that freedom is inseparable from responsibility and justice for all.
We must abide by the demands of our national emergency and practice without compromise — social distancing, personal hygiene, wearing masks and vaccinations. This is a matter of justice, one of the moral principles critical to society.
The emotional spectrum of this hot-button public safety crisis will continue for the foreseeable future. Many see the coronavirus, and personal decisions on how to respond, as a protection of freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
But we must have in thought, word and action that the common good and public safety is paramount, and inseparable from true freedom. A unity of effort throughout America, respecting the principles of justice, is mission critical to remedying the crisis. True freedom is always inseparable from justice, responsibility and honoring the common good without compromise.
We must vigilantly abide by medical professional guidelines to protect ourselves, families, neighbors, communities and our nation.
Our policing professionals are willing to risk their lives with the visible enemy as when bullets are flying. They hold sacrosanct positions in society deserving respect and honor.
Let us not only respect and honor them, but encourage them to protect themselves from all danger — including from the invisible enemy, the coronavirus. American law enforcement, there are countless individuals throughout our nation who honor your service and pray for your safety. As one of them, I respectfully encourage you with all sincerity — get vaccinated to protect yourself, your families, your communities and your country.