The current crisis has created a major problem for a sizable portion of the population: the due diligence and effort of maintaining cleanliness.
Humans are adapting, and with that has come not only the larger social changes, but personal lifestyle alterations. Chiefly standing out among these is a heightened awareness of commonly touched surfaces, frequented places, and essentially any other hazard germ theory informs us about.
Whether it’s out of personal concern for the protection of loved ones in their lives, or even just to avoid the headache of catching COVID-19, people have reasons of varying seriousness and justification. And there is no shame in having your own reasons. In fact, personal choice and responsibility are the essence of liberty! Acting on the desire to maintain good hygiene is a benefit in and of itself that far outweighs any possible “clean freak” moniker.
On the principle of liberty, an argument can even be made that by keeping your distance and washing your hands more, you’re working to help reduce involuntary spread of a disease to others beyond their control. That is functionally in line with the non-aggression principle that even the most ardent anarchists abide by. What good is there in willfully spreading a disease many don’t posses antibodies for? If life, liberty, and happiness (property) are all on the table as things we mustn’t knowingly harm, then spreading an illness borders on incorrigible behavior.
Perhaps you have a family member who is sick, not with you-know-what, but perhaps the flu or a cold, and you’ve started really making sure to keep space and wash your hands after helping them. This would be a perfectly normal reaction, as in our current predicament. There are innumerable ad campaigns trying to instill this kind of behavior in you. Either way, people are going to pick up a few habits. It does really seem to be in the name of greater good, even if the advice is coming from government first and medical sources second.
Some might be quick to criticize, whether it be from their desire to reject government controls or a self-assurance in this being “just another flu”. That’s a perfectly understandable reaction from someone of that mindset, and while there may be no real way to justify new hygiene habits to them, keeping yourself safe matters more than the opinion of others. If you think it makes you seem silly, then stop. But keeping healthy is a preferable alternative to the commie cough. Who cares what someone says? If you’re concerned, then do be concerned.
Ultimately, it boils down to a discussion of what really is the greater good, justifiable action therein, and the effect you have by attempting to change people’s behavior (by fear mongering or by advertisement). There is always time for skepticism of authority, but that doesn’t mean simple precautions should just be overlooked by some logic of principled action. In spite of all the negatives, there is a silver lining in how it makes people think.
Even here at The Libertarian Republic, we’ve been hearing it from Austin on how to stay safe, on all the steps to take, and it’s a refreshing level of concern. Advice is constantly being passed around between friends and family over what to do, how to be prepared, and so on. If anything, a little change in behavior illuminates the good nature in all of us.
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