Roy Exum: The Side Of Freedom

Monday, July 6, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

J.R.R Tolkien, who quite famously wrote books like ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, made a very astute observation one day before he died almost 50 years ago. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us.” None of us knows when the bell will toll, so my sole responsibility is to squeeze the most and best and brightest out of “the time given me” and I enjoy every day.

Just so you’ll know, death doesn’t scare me at all. I have the faith I’m going to a far better place. Because death holds no fear, neither does COVID-19. If I get the ‘Hunan flu,’ the chances are good I’ll croak. My auto-immune system ain’t real sporty, and the last dance I had with my infections the medicine didn’t work.

The only option was to chop my leg off. So what? Live for the moment and seize the day, that’s my thinking.

Don’t get me wrong. I wear a face mask everywhere, wash my hands a lot, and believe “distancing” really helps, but I’m not about to get panicky over the pandemic. The only reason I take such precautions is, so I won’t inadvertently give the disease to someone else. At the first signs of the disease, I prayed to God in early March, asking that He would encircle me with a “thicket of thorns” and, while I continue to ask for His grace for my friends, again, I don’t give the coronavirus as much as a single thought in any given week.

With that said, I need to tell you if I come up missing, one place you might want to check is Eagar, Arizona. Eagar is about five miles west of the New Mexico border and its biggest claim to fame is its proximity to the old “Outlaw Highway.” Any movie you ever saw about the gunfight at the OK Corral shows Wyatt Earp and his brothers going up against a ruthless band of desperadoes known as “the Cowboys.” 

They were a scurrilous bunch led by Johnny Ringo – this isn’t Hollywood, this is real history – and a firebrand in the bunch was Ike Clanton. A big group of outlaws lived in Eager’s nearby White Mountains because in the 1880s, when the law would sweep down on the outlaws, they would simply ride into New Mexico – or vice versa – because government rules decreed that lawmen could not cross state lines.

At any rate, Ike Clanton was killed during a gunfight in Eagar (1887), which was nothing compared to the rift between the Cavanaugh and the Snider gangs that left seven dead in 1878. Believe it or not, in the next few days the Eagar cemetery was established on the very land the gunfight had occurred so they wouldn’t need to drag the corpses of the dead around.

Eagar is in the Arizona high country, about 7,000 feet above sea level, and the state’s top snow ski resort, Sunrise Park, is less than 30 miles to the west.

But the best story of all comes from a very direct letter that the current mayor of Eagar just sent out to the town’s 5,000 citizens. Lord have mercy … what I wouldn’t give if Eagar Mayor Bryce would bring his common sense and his direct voice to our White House.

This echoes my sentiments exactly:

* * *

THE MAYOR’S LETTER: DEAR CITIZENS OF EAGAR, ARIZONA …

Dear Citizens of Eagar,

Over the past several weeks I have been asked repeatedly what the Town of Eagar plans to do about Covid19, masks, visitors, riots, etc. It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms. My response from the onset of the Covid19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom. 

When riots began to riddle the country and our governor took the drastic measure of a statewide curfew, again, I maintained that we will err on the side of freedom. I have received numerous phone calls from reporters, citizens, visitors, and complete strangers to our area asking why the Town of Eagar has not cancelled upcoming rodeos and our 4th of July parade. 

Again, my response is that Eagar will err on the side of freedom. What authority does the Town of Eagar, or any other state or local government, have to infringe on the rights of healthy law-abiding citizens?

It bares mentioning that I am not one that believes that the coronavirus is fake or any one of a dozen other theories disseminating across the internet. Covid19 is a real virus that unfortunately has drastic negative effects on the health of some of the individuals that contract it. 

Just as with the flu virus, some of those individuals will die. I do not make light of the fact that its effects on individuals and families throughout the globe have been and will continue to be life changing and/or life ending.

There are many individuals that risk serious peril if they were to contract the virus. Those individuals should take extreme precautions. I certainly would, were I in their position. In fact, I would invite those individuals to please stay home and not attend our festivities. 

But don’t ask that the government require it of healthy law-abiding citizens. If an individual is fearful of contracting the virus, I would invite that individual to take every precaution they deem fit, including wearing masks, gloves, or a variety of other personal protective equipment. 

Those precautions do not harm me, and I will not judge you adversely for doing what you feel is best for you. But don’t ask that the government require it of healthy law-abiding citizens.

As grim as Covid19 is portrayed under the most drastic scenario, I dare say that we are facing a much more serious pandemic here in America. We are currently in the midst of the nation’s first political pandemic. 

* -- Never before in the history of America has ignorance and bigotry been more celebrated. 

* -- Never before has our government been more eager and willing to take away freedoms from the citizenry. 

* -- Never before has the citizenry been more willing to give them up. Benjamin Franklin warned that “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”. I believe his warning is as applicable today as it ever was.

Some will say that these safety measures have not impacted individual liberty. To them I would quip Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” 

The right to move about freely in public is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. In a panicked frenzy, created by the media, state and local governments trampled that right wholesale. 

History will not judge us kindly for our actions over the past several months. In closing, where would America be if our ancestors that pioneered the countryside, facing a mortality rate that would make the coronavirus look like a scratch, had simply given up, turned back, or laid down and died out of fear? 

Where would America be if its brave service men and women, who throughout history have on occasion faced odds of almost certain death, simply refused to fight out of fear? 

When did we stop being the land of the free and the home of the brave? Take charge of your own life. Nobody owes you anything. The government has never been more ill equipped to solve your problems nor is it its function to do so. 

This is America! Stand up and be somebody. 

Be brave and live free.

/s/ Mayor Bryce Hamblin

Town of Eagar

* * *

A pandemic of lousy politics? You betcha’!

I stand with Mayor Hamblin.

royexum@aol.com


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