I must admit, I have been very conflicted surrounding governmental response to the Corona Virus, COVID-19. As I told one of my friends, if the government is involved, no matter the level, it will be too much and not enough at the same time.

The chaos and speed of an evolving situation such as this virus create openings in the vacuum of power in which governments operate on a daily basis. Fear and panic allow a population to be more easily controlled, pliable and subservient to a governmental power that in some areas of our country, allows for people to be arrested for walking in a park or paddle boarding by yourself in the ocean.

Like I said. I’m conflicted.

I’m staying home because that is what’s best for me. I’m slightly more at risk because of asthma, but I understand essential work, and what kinds of sacrifices we ask of the workers who show up every day to feed our country, and the world. And I am very thankful and fortunate that’s Vince’s work was deemed essential. One less worry in this time is a welcome thing.

But I still chafe at overreaching government edicts, and I have never been a fan of being told what I MUST do, especially if the direction of the government is limiting my freedom when no one else is at risk.

I watched states lock down, whether by mandate or request. I watched as people who have called President Trump a dictator daily suddenly reverse course and demand tyrannical national lockdowns, which is particularly  convenient when your paycheck will arrive whether you showed up or not. Interestingly enough, many of these same people weren’t big fans when the lockdowns involved our borders or international airports.

Those on the front lines of this virus, the essential employees, don’t really have that luxury.

Neither do the millions upon millions of people who find themselves unemployed or the thousands of business owners facing the decision of whether they can still exist as a business after this crisis is over.

I question a government response that includes releasing people from prisons for “non-violent” crimes that invariably release violent criminals including child molesters but arrest your neighbor playing baseball at a park with his young son. We punish those who take responsibility for themselves, because so many have absolved themselves of personal responsibility and expect the government to provide for them.

There are plenty of bones to pick with elected officials from top to bottom, our elite scientists, doctors and advisers who trusted WHO (World Health Organization) and the Chinese Communist Government. The CDC, which incredulously said that masks didn’t work for the general public, because they did not want to admit that there were not nearly enough masks for our healthcare workers and essential employees, nor the domestic supply chains to guarantee widespread protection from respiratory viruses for our citizens.

I question the motives of a media class that is quick to blame, and incurious to historical data or asking the tough questions of those they agree with politically.

I question governors who chose to implement Orwellian death panels and criterion for triaging care for patients in a pandemic rather than spending money on ventilators that their own experts said would be necessary in a crisis such as this. I have little patience for this line of thinking after many parts of the world suffered from SARS and MERS, not to mention swine and bird flu epidemics. The “it can’t happen here” mentality of so many in power is the height of arrogance. Same for politicians and officials who want to control lives via mandate, but don’t have the desire to educate themselves on the current dangers to the citizens they represent.

Viruses care little for borders and rules, and the gates to our kingdom have been open for longer than I have been alive.

All of this comes to mind before we even try to tackle an American culture that distrusts those who cover their faces.

But after watching China’s facial recognition and social credit systems, especially during the Hong Kong protests, masks maybe aren’t such a bad thing from a freedom standpoint. At least in the face of communism’s central planners and overzealous officials bent on controlling their population.

I do not envy President Trump, Vince President Pence, Drs. Birx and Fauci and the rest of the task force. The decisions they face are not easy to make, and there are consequences far beyond even what we think we notice. How do you balance deaths from a new virus versus deaths from loss of income, missed medical diagnosis that require quick decisions and care or a population facing anxiety and uncertainty in the near future and beyond?

There are no perfect answers. No perfect solutions where everything just goes back to normal.

Sometimes most all of the choices are bad. That is a price of leadership.

But even with all that we face, I have faith.

I have faith in the American people, our neighbors and friends.

I have faith in the farmers and dairymen, doctors and nurses, food processors and those in the trades who show up everyday for jobs that are more a calling than a vocation.

I have faith that more Americans would rather fight back - whether against a virus or a nation bent on our destruction - than hide and cower.

I have faith that a nation that bred Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Franklin has also cultivated a people that will rise to the challenges of our day.

I have faith that while our country has at times turned its back on God, at least in our public squares, God has not turned his back on us.

And I have absolute faith that America and the world will beat this virus, with or without the cooperation of China’s Communist Party.

We are a country that has been blessed with prosperity, though we have had our share of challenges. We ultimately hold our own destiny and liberty in our hands, if we can endure not just what lies ahead but also the upcoming challenges that we will have to face together as we try to move forward once this virus is overcome.

I take it as no coincidence that we face this crisis during the Lenten Season and Easter. It is a time of reflection, repentance and re-commitment culminating in the joy of Jesus’s ascension to Heaven. The lessons of sacrifice, faith and commitment are more easily seen and learned in times of suffering whether the circumstance happens by the hand of nature or man.

But we can celebrate the joy and renewal that Easter brings, and pray that that renewal will be granted to us. Even if it must be done at a social distance.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.