Protesters at the state capital in Columbus, Ohio
I shared this experience before, but it is especially cogent now. One of those moments nearly every parent has experienced, is wedged in the creases of my brain and held like the frozen image of a paused video. It happened at a Kroger store in Columbus, Ohio.
With four young children we had experienced occasional temper tantrums, deploying the range of threats and bribes that immediately come to the mind of a panicked parent. We had not really developed a consistent strategy until one of our children became an exuberant practitioner of the frenzied fit. That is when we read some parenting guru’s advice to simply detach and let the child freak out without gaining a positive or negative response. Unfortunately for me, the next fit was on the automatic door opener at the entrance to Kroger while I was holding an even younger child.
I feigned detachment while burning inside with embarrassment and anger. With all the steely calm I could muster in my best acting voice, I explained he was free to do what he needed to do down there on the floor and when he was done, we would proceed. This was new behavior on my part so the little blighter did not believe a word I said and had to test his pitiful dad’s resolve. This experience was made all the more mortifying by people entering Kroger and not knowing whether to step around or over my child, or go through the out door when it swung open. The looks I received varied from irritated at being put out, to knowingly sympathetic, to sternly judgmental.
That is the memory etched in my brain with nary a faded color, smoothed edge, nor muffled sound from the original moment. In fact, it’s been enhanced over time.
When I saw the images of angry protesters outside the state house in Lansing, Michigan and later from other cities scattered across the country, all I could think of was that moment at Kroger. Babies with guns.
What childish, twisted notion of liberty claims the right to endanger the public good during a pandemic? It is the kind that believes a part is greater than the whole – meaning of course, that exercising what “I want” matters more than the potentially fatal consequences to others. If it was merely a matter of personal risk that might culminate in the protester’s death, fine. But when anyone contracts the virus there is an increased likelihood of their spreading it to others, and to those who will end up caring for them in particular. “My right” to make money or have fun, it logically follows, trumps your right to live.
And speaking of the temper-tantrum-in-chief, it turns out he is enflaming this hard knot of self-centeredness. Of course, he is.
I wish the national media would learn the lesson I did as a parent. Ignore the temper tantrum. His ridiculous daily briefings should be ignored, covered nowhere but on FOX, and instead, reporters could actually report by filing one-on-one interviews with Fauci and others who know what they are talking about. Kroger ended tantrums in our house, let’s ignore the babies with guns.