DANIEL VAUGHAN: Coronavirus strips away fake virtues

There’s a Latin phrase, used mostly by lawyers describing certain confessions: in vino veritas. It means, “In wine lies the truth.” The phrase implies that people who are drunk and removed from all their inhibitions speak something a little closer to the truth.

We’re currently experiencing the pandemic corollary to that: in covid veritas. We’re seeing the actual virtues of our society as a virus strips the lesser — or even fake — ones away.

When it became inevitable that the coronavirus demanded the complete attention of the government, we got to see something rare. Politicians of all parties agreed on the most important value in this time: life. We’ve witnessed a complete reordering of our values. From top to bottom, politicians have had one imperative: save lives.

New York’s Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo has told reporters that “job one has to be ‘save lives.'” And he’s said that “if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.” It’s a reordering of all values that places human life and its preservation above all other things — including rights and economic prosperity.

The importance of protecting life has spanned all age groups, socio-economic factors, and race. And while the results of our intervention haven’t shown success across all those factors, we’ve at least taken notice of that fact. We’ve seen that those who live in more impoverished neighborhoods have worse outcomes.

We’ve also noticed that a virus, which infects and kills anyone, has disproportionately affected the black community in America. This is one of those occasions where these outcomes are universally acknowledged and found concerning.

During the Obamacare debates in 2009 and 2010, one of the main flashpoints centered on how we care for the elderly. The costs of caring for a person as they age go up rapidly, and that has long been perceived as a driver of health care costs.

We aren’t talking about such measures anymore. We’re focused on saving every older adult, and the idea that a virus is running rampant through the nursing homes of America appalls us (rightfully).

To save more lives, we’ve asked something of everyone — including the sick. We’ve temporarily halted nearly all forms of elective procedures. “Elective” doesn’t mean unneeded; some of these elective procedures are very much needed. “Elective” only means that we can schedule these procedures in advance — but they can’t be put off forever. This includes everything from mole removal to cancer treatments.

When you start looking at the long list of people who have had to put off life-saving treatments to help prevent the spread of the virus, it puts things into perspective.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have filed multiple lawsuits across the country, trying to ensure that all abortions continue to go forward, even while anyone else with an elective procedure scheduled must wait. It’s not like abortions are the only “rights” getting infringed right now. Most rights listed in the U.S. Constitution or separate state constitutions are getting curtailed by the long arm of state police and public health powers.

And it doesn’t take much to see the people yelling that “we’re in this together,” and that everyone needs to stay home and shut everything down, are also fine with those lawsuits. Anyone needing an elective procedure is out in the cold.

Fortunately, that mindset is not a majority line of thought on either side, and only reflects the tone-deaf myopic view of a few. The fact that it is a minority mindset is a good sign. Americans value life. In the middle of a pandemic, most people see the value of life outweighing any notion of choice.

Stripping us of all the usual political arguments and jargon, the virus has revealed human life is intrinsically more valuable than anything else. In fact, we have to bring in the manufactured debate of life versus choice to bring life off of that pedestal and get people to view the topic differently.

Another thing this reveals is how wrong the progressive mindset is on those considered less fortunate. In recent years we’ve seen a eugenics mindset creep back into popular thought. Though far less visceral than the past, the perniciousness of it remains as we identify the “less fit” through new ways.

The virus has revealed what an appalling standard that is. If we’re willing to protect and save everyone in a pandemic, what changes in a person’s intrinsic worth in regular times? The rejoinder to this would be that we’re in a moment of pandemic mortality, and things have shifted based on the situation.

There’s undoubtedly some truth to that. We’re OK with some rights being curtailed in a pandemic to protect public health. But it’s not as if a person’s worth or value has suddenly changed before or after the virus.

What’s changed is not the value, but rather, the focus. And when forced to focus on what matters, we choose life.

The abortion advocates seem overly tone-deaf because they’re seeking to protect a medical procedure in a time when others, in far more dire circumstances, cannot get service. That shift happens because we are focused on life.

If your claim is that abortion is more needed than cancer treatment, you are tone-deaf. It’s maintaining a facade others have long since dropped.

And it’s in this moment, when we see that life does have all the intrinsic value, that should stand up to say it always has that value. It’s not that life loses value outside a pandemic.

Human life has intrinsic value at all times. We have to lie to ourselves to get into quandaries where we measure that life against other factors. We should keep these lies removed after the virus is conquered — we’re better for having those lies exposed.

In covid veritas.

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