The Lockdown Brain is Locked Down

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

It is a Sunday morning at Buffalo Ridge Park in Northeast Phoenix. The parking lot is full. Children play on city supplied appliances, sucking their thumbs, sliming up the swings and slides with spittle that they share with others, and having a wonderful time.

People are walking their dogs. Their dogs sniff each other and their droppings. Owners pet their dogs and the dogs of others with whom they greet and converse.

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I remember the words of one of my physicians after I had major intestinal surgery. Between the surgery and the necessary weeks of antibiotics, the colony of friendly gut bacteria so essential to health had been completely upended. One particular bacterium had gained ascendency on the others, the dreaded C-dif.

Recommendations were to take probiotics, which did little. An additional recommendation was to get a dog “because they are so good at spreading bacteria.” It worked for both the new dog and myself. I love that dog and his bacteria.

Buffalo Ridge is also known for Frisbee golf. It is busy today, with dozens of people touching plastic discs and throwing them into a chain-like cage. No one is wearing a mask as people reach into the common cage to retrieve their Frisbees.

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On the ball diamond, a father is teaching his young son some baseball essentials. A bit further away, a teenage boy is pitching to a friend with a catcher’s mitt. The boy is trying to try to throw some breaking stuff. On occasion, he goes to his mouth for moisture before grasping a now filthy ball. He is having a great time. The ball makes a satisfying smack as it hits leather.

My son and I sit on a bench near the basketball court. My son is a low functioning adult autistic in his mid-thirties. After a walk around the environs, he likes to sit in the warm sun and tap the bench.

A young girl tries out some pink roller skates on the concrete basketball court in front of us. She falls down some, getting her hands good and dirty. Her grandfather picks her up and puts her on his shoulders. She puts her hands on his face and neck. Everyone is happy.

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Then I notice the basketball nets, which are the source of the photograph above. It is locked with FIVE PADLOCKS, just to be sure that nobody is permitted to play basketball.

But with baseballs, swings and slides, Frisbees, and multiple dogs in motion, what is the deadly risk in basketball?  Who knows? The “authorities” know, the people under the command of the Lord Mayor of Phoenix!

The net is subjected to constant UV rays, as is the concrete. It is outside. What is the risk?

You might say, the ball is commonly touched. Well, so are the Frisbees, the swings, the slides, the dogs, and the baseballs. Besides, how does the city parks department know that there might not be solo basketball players wanting to perfect their fade away jump shot?

The teenage boys that typically play here are simply not part of the at-risk population. Hitting their heads on the concrete is a substantially greater risk. But they must be protected by the city of Phoenix from a super spreader event, a game of basketball, outside, in the warm sun.

That is what is so strange about the application of lockdown measures. Most are entirely arbitrary and make no sense. The tiny tyrants ranging from the state level down to the city level, just make arbitrary decisions on the basis of…their whim.

They do it in the name of science.  You know, backed up by all those peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the deadly nature of playing basketball, outside in the sun. I am sure you have heard of them.

They have the population so frightened that one commonly sees solo hikers, bikers, and drivers wearing masks.  Nothing is quite so deadly as to suck in deadly Covid between Wickiup and Los Vegas.  Of course, getting closer than six feet at seventy miles an hour, the risk of death by collision is far greater than the risk of viral infection.

The multiple locks on the chain basketball net are a metaphor. It represents that supporters of lockdown policies have their brains locked down. 

In the early stages of this pandemic, it was reasonable to give authorities a break. They really did not know what they were dealing with and health officials uttered many confusing and contradictory statements. It is better to use “an abundance of caution”, the popular phrase of the time. But when it came to harming society and the economy, no such caution was used.

But we now know most of those measures did little to stop the spread. States with few restrictions often show less of the virus than those states with stringent measures.

Moreover, it has generated a set of policies that have undermined faith in government, which perhaps is a good thing. We see a lot of that in California with policies such as it is Ok to mingle at a strip club, but dangerous to go to church. Or, we will put restrictions on indoor dining, but lift them when infectious rates are higher than when first imposed. You know, those kinds of policies.

One of the dictums of good medicine, is “at first, do no harm.” But they did grave harm to the public. They wrecked the economy, and we are doing so much deficit spending, we will be lucky if they don’t wreck the currency and societal stability itself. They destroyed dreams and livelihoods, but the virus still spread.

They propagated the myth that government action can stop a virus rather than being more modest in what they both knew and could actually do. Perhaps they can delay spread, but even that now is questionable  How did that bending the curve work out? We are not even sure how long the vaccines provide protection, whether they are effective against variants of the virus or preventing even the spreading of the virus. Sometimes it is better to say you don’t know, rather than spread false impressions based on ever changing bluster.

They so frightened people, that often those with conditions other than the Wuhan virus, don’t seek medical attention, and die because of it.

Drug addiction, loneliness, and despair have taken a toll.

But the lockdown mind, is itself, locked down. Impervious to new data or experience, it clings to arbitrary authoritarian rule. At base, it wants to substitute its judgments for our own decision making. Yet, we are the people who have greater information about our personal conditions of life than they can ever possess. And, we are in the best position to determine the necessary trade-offs of our decisions and the consequences of those decisions.

Just give us the best information you have and let us deal with the nuances of decision-making. The government should not wreck our lives to protect us.

We know that those over seventy, and particularly those with breathing issues, heart issues, being overweight or diabetic, have much greater risks. This population needs protection and this population has the common sense to protect itself. But this population is unlikely to be playing basketball at 10 AM outside, at the park.

To stop healthy teenagers from playing is not showing an abundance of caution, it is a gesture without substance. That, unfortunately, is the hallmark, of the lockdown mentality.

For those in a panic, we encourage you to take whatever precautions you feel necessary to protect yourself. That is your right. However, do not impose by force your irrational panic on the rest of us.

Let the kids play basketball. Just tell them to wash their hands afterward.

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