Freedom or Death?

Tsz Ying Lau

Would you risk your life for freedom? This has been a philosophical question that no one can give a perfect answer to. A universal answer would be “it depends on the situation”. During the coronavirus outbreak, some people refused to maintain social distancing, protested against lockdowns and gathered for leisure, which put themselves and others at the risk of being infected. Should this be called a brave and sacrificing act that fights for freedom?

China and the United States have imposed similar lockdown policies while receiving the opposite feedback. China, as the first country found to have coronavirus cases, imposed lockdown policies at its earliest convenience. Ever since the 23rd of January, lockdown policies were imposed in Wu Han province. About five million citizens were forced to stay in the province. Starting from the 11th of February, the government imposed a stricter policy: citizens could not leave their homes unless necessary. All daily necessities were centrally distributed. According to research published in The Science, China’s lockdown policy has effectively lowered the number of coronavirus cases by 96%.

On the contrary, lockdown policy is not at all effective in America. Despite the number of coronavirus cases in America has exceeded three million, along with about fifty thousand cases increasing each day, over half of the states have protested against the lockdown. Why is this happening?

What immediately comes to my mind is the difference in culture. In China, collectivism is emphasized in education. A clear hierarchy is deeply rooted in the Chinese’s values. For instance, juniors obey seniors’ orders in most situations. Therefore, they are less likely to resist the lockdown even if they do not agree with the policy. Although some countries criticize lockdown policy as a violation of one’s freedom, it turns out that it is one of the most effective policies in the war with coronavirus.

In contrast, America’s education emphasizes individualism and independence. Fewer hierarchy concepts are taught during their education. America is famous for its equality: all Americans should be able to enjoy their individual rights because “all men are created equal”. Therefore, when the government imposes a policy that does not suit Americans’ interests, it is likely that they will be resistant to the authority and the policy is imposed. Until today, only about half of the Americans are willing to wear masks are out.

Research has proven that “wearing mask have a meaningful impact on the spread of the virus” (Brandon). The more people willing to wear masks, maintain social distance, and follow the lockdown policies, the less likely that the virus will spread. From another perspective, the more people committed to following these measures, the earlier that we can gain our freedom again. At the end of the day, how can you enjoy your freedom if you have lost your life?

Works cited:

Brandon, John. “A Doctor Explains Why 45% Of All Americans Refuse To Wear A Protective

Mask”. Forbes, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbbrandon/2020/05/06/a-doctor-explains-why-45-of-all-americans-refuse-to-wear-a-protective-mask/#4a3801ab213d. Accessed 9 July 2020.

Tian, Huaiyu, et al. “An investigation of transmission control measures during the first 50 days of the

COVID-19 epidemic in China”. ScienceMag.org, 8 May 2020, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6491/638. Accessed 7 July 2020.

“时间轴:武汉“封城”的76天 [Timeline: Wu Han “lockdown” 76 days]”. BBC News 中文,

8 April 2020, https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-52197004. Accessed 7 July 2020.