For two years this nation and the world has been impacted by a pandemic. At first, no one knew what to do or what to think. Some believed, and still believe, that the Covid-19 virus was a Chinese bioweapon gone wrong. That is, it was released accidently into the world. As of last week, the virus had claimed just under six million lives worldwide, making it one of the earth’s most deadly diseases.
Local governments, states, and the federal government all got into the act and suggested or required compliance with guidelines to combat the virus. In the beginning, nearly all people in the United States made efforts to comply even though people were inconvenienced, isolated, financially damaged (in many cases bankrupted), and saw their livelihoods disrupted or destroyed.
The two issues that put people into different camps were (1) the vaccine when it finally became available, and (2) the wearing of masks. In theory, everyone was expected to get the vaccine and wear the masks. But with the passing of time, it became obvious that many in leadership demanded of others what they were not willing to do themselves.
Time and again, news reports featured the Hollywood “elite,” politicians, and others of power and influence who felt it was fine to demand that masks be worn, yet they themselves were frequently photographed at gatherings, restaurants, athletic events, and other public gatherings without masks.
It appeared that they believed that the rules they were all too ready to enforce on others did not apply to them. After all, they were the people in power or people of influence. They were important. The rules were for the peasants.
The elites who insist that the world is actively dying because of climate change insist that others transform their behavior while they themselves fly on their private jets and own gas hogging cars. Many Hollywood actors cry for gun control yet surround themselves with armed men and make millions filming violent movies which, as one would expect, employs massive amounts of guns.
It has always been that way of course. The despot ruler of North Korea gets fat while his people starve. He is much too important to do without food. He and his cronies live well and eat well. The hovels and the starvation are for the peasants. Rich men in the Middle East own enormous yachts, bank accounts, and jet planes while their subjects do without the basics of life.
In the United States, the Congress has been known to exempt members of Congress from they very laws enforced upon others. Or they simply ignore those laws. In 2020 members of the United States Senate sold stock using information that was presented in a closed meeting. Insider trading is, as many people know, illegal. So why did these defenders of democracy ignore the laws? Well, they are “special,” you see. The rules only apply to the peasants.
Why were the Hollywood rich and famous often at parties and events without masks? Well, they are “special” as well. They certainly do not see themselves like the rest of us. They are not in the peasant class any longer. So, the rules do not apply.
This type of attitude, over time, foments and fosters dissatisfaction. Sometimes the pot boils over into aggression or outright violence. That attitude eventually cost Marie Antoinette of France her head. In the event of a nuclear war, there are plans to evacuate certain people and professions to a safe place where they will be safe from harm. The chances are that you are not among them. The peasants can be annihilated but the special people, the “elites,” must survive.
With rare exception, it is not the politician’s sons, or the sons of the rich and powerful, or even the sons of generals and admirals that go off to war and find themselves on the front lines. It is the children of middle-class children or working class or lower class that volunteer to serve and, if a large conflict erupts, it is those same children who will somehow escape being conscripted. And, if they are, the other elites will work to make sure they have safe assignments.
There are exceptions. Elvis Presley received his draft notice at the height of his career and served honorably. In a previous generation, numerous actors volunteered their service and found themselves in harm’s way. Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss was employed in an essential job at a shipyard and could easily have not served in the military. But Germany, Japan, and Italy were terrorizing the world and Doss, a conscientious objector, volunteered to be a combat medic.
Doss was part of four campaigns in the Pacific and, never firing or carrying a weapon, saved life after life on the battlefield. In the bloody battle for Okinawa, Doss, at great personal risk, refused an order to retreat and stayed on the scene with his wounded and dying men, eventually saving some seventy-five lives in one day.
For his actions, Doss would be wounded three separate times, would never totally recover from his wounds, and would receive two bronze stars for valor under fire. He would receive the first Medal of Honor in American history awarded to a conscientious objector. A movie, “Hacksaw Ridge,” would be made about his life. Sometimes peasants rise to a level that the “elites” may never attain.
But the world is being treated to a view of an incredible exception. Volodmyr Zelenakyy is the President, as of this writing, of Ukraine. The 44-year-old president has had offers from the United States and others to evacuate him and his family, who are now targets of the invading Russian military, to safety. He is a former actor and comedian who, although the elected leader of a nation forty million strong, refuses to leave his people in their darkest hour. Thus far, he has remained in the capital city, with bombs and missiles falling on his peaceful people.
The President’s wife, Olena Zelenska, 44, has said that she will stand with her husband, as will their two young children. They will stand, fight, and possibly die, with their people. They do not see their citizens as peasants. They do not see themselves as the elite either. In their world, the rules apply to all.
One woman on social media called President Zelenskyy, “The last REAL man in Europe.” He is not, of course. There are thousands of men returned to Ukraine from other countries to stand with their nation and their president. But he very well may be the last REAL man in national leadership. It is one thing to send the peasants to war to fight and to die. It is another thig entirely to fight and die with them.
Our own politicians and other “elites” do not seem to get it at all. It is said that Marie Antoinette, upon being told that the poor were hungry and lacked bread, said, “Let them eat cake!” In this nation, when the peasants have had enough, they have the option to rebel and overthrow such people. Fortunately, they choose to do that with votes at the ballot box instead of with guillotines. They can also vote with their wallets and refuse to buy movie, athletic, or concert tickets. In this nation, when they have had enough, the peasants have options.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the pandemic, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life) He may contacted at email@example.com.]