At 6:20pm on Bad Friday, authorities announced that their “stay indoors” request had been lifted and over one million people were free to go about their lives.
Earlier in the day, the same officials had decided that the entire metropolitan Boston area was in imminent danger. An armed fugitive was on the loose and it was best to shut everything down and “shelter in place”. And now, 12 hours later, though nothing had changed, they said the imminent danger was past.
One million people, who had been asked by their government to give up their freedom for a day, now streamed outside to look up at the warm overcast sky, breath in the fresh air, and be together again. Really together, not home alone.
I am the sort of person who will wait for the “Walk” signal at a deserted intersection. “Shelter in place” is easy for me, I work at home. But I could not stay indoors on Friday when asked. I made it a point on work breaks and the distraction of the news storm to walk around my neighborhood and carry on. I wish officials had asked everyone to do the same.
This week began in celebration of a day when patriots, stunned and bloodied, ran towards danger. It happened again Monday when heroes, stunned and bloodied, ran towards danger. It happened on Friday when police, stunned and bloodied, did the same. That is something which has not changed in 238 years.
What did change, for 12 hours on Bad Friday, was our freedom. We were asked, stunned and bloodied, to give it up and stay home. I wish we had never been asked.
I hope the most profound lesson of a most profound week is that, while “shelter in place” may work well for hurricanes, blizzards, and other disasters, it should not be used again as it was on Friday. Instead, we should embrace our freedom, especially in the face of terrorism.
At 6:21pm, a good citizen (and a million others) stepped outside to look up at the warm overcast sky and breath in the fresh air of freedom. He noticed the tarp on his boat was flapping in the breeze. He looked inside and carried on.