The Jewish High Holy Days began this week with the Jewish New Year, a great reminder that our time here is sacred and limited. Every year, month and day are divine gifts. We mourn our lost ones and savor the moments with the living which are as sweet as the apples and honey that celebrate this New Year. It's also a time to recognize when we've wronged others, apologize and vow to embrace acts of kindness if gifted with another year of life. Joining celebration with mourning, repentance with good works, we demonstrate how individual joy and freedom must be balanced with personal and communal responsibility. And that's exactly what we need now.
We all mourn those lost to COVID-19 as its delta variant picks up steam, yet the refusal to mask up and social distance is turning sinister. Even as the lives of our children are at risk, some anti-maskers have turned school board meetings into violent confrontations. There's no sense of repentance when children and teachers pack our hospitals. To the contrary. There is a growing vigilante mindset that says it's not only OK but patriotic to inflict more pain in a fight for freedom to infect.
Take the recent incident at a school in Tucson, Ariz., where a father was told to quarantine his son because of COVID-19 exposure. The dad arrived at the principal's office with two thugs carrying zip ties, threatening the administrator with a citizen's arrest. He also brought his son along, passing the rage on to the next generation. I doubt he intended the boy to witness his arrest, but I hope that's a lesson that the boy also learned.
Vigilantism, defined as "law enforcement undertaken without legal authority by a self-appointed group of people," is the poster child for an imbalance of freedom and responsibility. But it's now becoming popular — and legal. The right-to-lifers are celebrating the new Texas law that virtually eliminates abortion while encouraging bounty hunters to report and track down pro-abortion attempts. The Supreme Court was silent, in effect encouraging other states to duplicate Texas' law.
There's a lack of balance between the no-holds-barred advocacy for the unborn and refusal to take responsibility for protecting lives and communities from COVID. If that sounds a bit abstract to you, then picture yourself as the parent of a 13-year- old girl who's been raped and is looking to abort. See the child approached by three burly men trying to make a citizen's arrest. One of them is the rapist who can sue the teenager for $10,000. You're tempted to call the police but know that's pointless after several Supreme Court justices sit idle.
Fortunately, not everyone is in agreement. GoDaddy removed the abortion-snitch Whistleblower site for sharing medical information, encouraging stalkers and violating terms of service. Unfortunately, Whistleblower quickly switched to Digital Ocean which also hosts extremist, supremacist sites like 8chan and Parler.
There must be a wake-up call. The sense of entitlement and self-righteousness that's empowering the vigilante mindset will just get bigger.
What to do? Community responsibility requires counteracting this vigilantism. What's needed is a loud and long public outcry. And be prepared to vote in 2022, no matter how difficult that's made.
Contact Deborah Levine, an author, trainer/coach and editor of the American Diversity Report, at firstname.lastname@example.org.