As I write this it is mid-morning and I’ve already washed my hands multiple times. I’ve got rubber gloves in my car now. I skipped the gym in favor of a good ‘ol driveway workout but I paid my gym dues anyway. My law firm invested in enhanced video conferencing capabilities. My wife checked on our neighbors. This is just stuff that we all do now. But having said that I will also say that this environment of concern and social restriction should not constitute our “new normal” – just our current state of affairs.

As I write this I also just saw on social media that the Alabama Department of Commerce is issuing guidelines for economic relief. One of Alabama’s larger churches just partnered with the State and a hospital to conduct medical testing. Some school systems are finding ways to put food on the table for underprivileged students. But at the same time some government entities here in the Yellowhammer State are forcing the closure of private businesses in something almost akin to martial law.

As I write this I also take note that the federal government just instituted some very severe mandates on private enterprise. I understand and respect such things as the closure of borders, travel restrictions, cessation of large gatherings and market freezes to prevent sell-offs. I find it difficult to imagine though how small businesses will be able to afford government mandated paid leave to staff when the small business may already be in a crunch due to economic downturns.

As I write this I am seeking balance in an unbalanced time. There is a reason that our founders saw fit to enact the Fifth Amendment which contains certain rights of due process and a prohibition of the taking of private property by the government. They did so because they had already seen it, endured it, and saw fit to prevent it ever happening again.

To be sure, government has a legitimate and necessary purpose to the maintenance of a civil society. James Madison is quoted in the Federalist Papers as saying that “if men were angels, no government would be necessary” but he followed that by adding that we “must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” There is an inexorable strain of gravity versus levity, restriction versus liberty, management versus overreach. Balance in an unbalanced time is vital to the daily walk in this democracy.

At the end of this crisis – and to be clear, I am confident that there will be an end to this crisis – I want both the governing and the governed to look back on this time with confidence and satisfaction that we stood up, owned up, and met the challenge in a manner that future generations will be proud of and draw from. These are strange times. But I am mindful of a contemporary translation of Proverbs 24:10 that says “if you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” Let’s meet this challenge with a spirit of cooperation, earnest commitment and a stated end goal of not just the preservation of personal health but of the health of our communities and way of life.

As I write this I know we can overcome with balance. As I write this I am looking forward. As I write this I am going to pause and go check on an elderly friend.


MORE ON Good Governance

Leadership Revealed in a Crisis

Unusual challenges such as this Coronavirus pandemic teach us who we really are. They reveal whether we are courageous and generous or fearful and selfish. Our leaders are no different. We learn their virtues and vices when they are tested by difficult times. Three such virtues are especially important for leaders in a time such […]

Pro-Life in a Pandemic

For those of us who are pro-life, it’s easy to get in the habit of only thinking of this pillar of our values system in the context of abortion. But occasionally a crisis comes along to remind us that a biblical view of human life has far broader applications. Such is the case with COVID-19. […]

MORE FROM Phil Williams

What if you could really vote out some politicians? I mean really!

Has there ever been a ballot initiative that reduced the number of politicians? I mean, ever? What if I told you that with the stroke of a pen you could get shed of several ineffective politicians? What if the pot was sweetened just a bit by having that same stroke of a pen do away […]

The Medical Marijuana Bill Looks More Like a Trojan Horse

There is a great deal of effort going on in Montgomery to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. So much effort, in fact, that a review of the draft legislation indicates that the Republican majority may well be asked very soon to throw out every conservative principle that each of them ran on […]

For Whom the Bridge Tolls

If you’ve followed the news lately you could not have missed the fact that there has been a kerfluffle of the highest order near the Alabama coastline. Like a scene from the old fairy tale, the Three Billy Goats Gruff, the local populace has thrown the “bridge trolls” into the bay and seemingly defeated the infamous toll payments that were at issue. The difference between our coastal brethren and sistren and the Goats is that the Goats got a bridge out of it.