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As I sit at my desk officially one hour into the new COVID-19 Purple Tier curfew in San Diego, I can’t help but think about a few things. First, after just turning 53 a few days ago I once again have a 10pm curfew like it’s a damn school night. Second, why is this tier the color purple? Is this a sign of the Purple Rain Prince was talking about? Years ago Prince was asked about the meaning of the song’s title he said “Purple Rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain”, and later added that the apocalyptic connotations of the color purple made it his favorite color. Okay, I’m officially freaked out.

COVID-19 Rate in California

Woman wearing face mask at California beach

In all seriousness, I think we all can agree that this is not where we hoped we would be with this pandemic almost 10 months later. The first reported case in California was January 26, 2020 and just 55 days later California had 1,067 confirmed cases and nineteen deaths. So on March 19th the first Shelter-in-Place order was activated statewide by California Governor, Gavin Newsome. As of this moment, 1.1 million Californians have been diagnosed and have seen 18,709 deaths due to COVID-19. Yes, just in California we have had almost nineteen thousand deaths.

It took just eight short months to go from nineteen deaths to nineteen thousand and counting. Yet thousands in the state still refuse to wear a mask, socially distance, refrain from group gatherings, and will back up their decisions with re-tweets and shares of their favorite social media science and immunology expert who barely passed their high school science class while blaming the Governor and challenging degreed professional experts.

Comparing the Numbers

Man smoking cigarette on balcony

But should we really be surprised? Cigarettes have a message from the Surgeon General printed on every pack that you’re probably going to get cancer and die. California has the 11th highest cigarette tax in the nation at $2.87 per pack; our clean indoor air ordinance banned smoking in just about every indoor space due to the severe risks of second hand smoke, and yet 11.7% of Californians still smoke.

In California, we have some of the strictest laws against cell phone use while driving. California had more than 178,000 cell phone use convictions in 2019 and 14% of fatal car accidents were due to cell phone use while driving. Yet, 40% of all drivers in California admit to checking emails and texting while driving. Yes, almost half of all Californians will risk their life to see who liked their meme on Facebook.

It’s really no wonder why California has more prisons than schools—we clearly are not learning a damn thing. Now here we are in 2020 with a whole new way to ignore guidelines and risk our lives and the health and lives of others—including our own loved ones.  Wearing a face mask, no not the hard plastic and metal one Hannibal Lector wore when he left his jail cell in Silence of the Lambs, the 4” x 4” piece of material that we watched Michael Jackson wear, medical professionals, and during the 2007 wildfires that Californians wore. For all of the things wrong with the world, this is what many Californians are out marching about and refusing to adhere to, because apparently wearing a mask and following the guidelines to protect us will jeopardize our freedom and civil liberties. Funny, it would seem that nothing says lack of freedom more than being in a coffin, but I guess that’s just me.

Safety Laws Don’t Take Away Our Civil Liberties

Protestors waving Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter signs

So with the rationale being that a mask and the other guidelines will reduce the risks of contracting or spreading COVID, wouldn’t following the laws to wear a seat belt, putting your kid in a car seat, or wearing a bike helmet also take away your freedom and civil liberties? Like a mask and the other COVID prevention guidelines, using seatbelts, car seats, and bike helmets don’t prevent death and injury, but they are proven to greatly reduce the risks. So why follow those but not the mask and social distancing guidelines? Because, believe it or not, we balked those too in California until they became laws. Almost every single law we have to keep us safe started as a guideline we ignored until enough people died that it became a law. So if we want to look at these guidelines as a loss to our civil liberties and freedoms we truly have no one to blame but ourselves.

Even looking at the anti-mask stance from a social or political point of view it makes no sense. First we have the Californians who claim to be pro-life, but protest preventative measures to protect life. Then we have the Law and Order/ Blue Lives Matter crew who constantly preach about compliance then go out to march waving their altered U.S. flags with the blue line or signs that say #BlueLivesMatter while not wearing masks and ironically ignoring that it’s those very same members of law enforcement that now have to risk their blue lives dealing with these maskless and potentially COVID-positive rebels. Yes, the same Californians basking in their civil liberty glory have added an additional call load to law enforcement that now have to respond to double digit COVID-compliance calls every day while dramatically increasing their work load and chances of being exposed to a potentially deadly virus.  And then there are the #AllLivesMatter Californians who refuse to wear a mask or refrain from mass gatherings, claim to have a medical exemption card from wearing a mask, and are usually the ones who also argue for gun rights every time there is a mass shooting. Yet these individuals brag that they are not going to live their life in fear and the rest of us are just sheep. Maybe we should just update that one to, All Lives Matter’ish.

Now we have been asked to reduce our Thanksgiving gatherings to small groups or better yet, just stay home, and all Baby Boomer Pilgrim hell broke loose. And why, who do these maskless bandits think they are fooling? These are the same dudes who every damn Thanksgiving would donate a kidney to avoid the in-laws, stay home, and overdose on turkey and football.

Even the arguments about dining out are absurd. I cannot tell you how many times, pre-pandemic, I saw couples out dining with each other but on their cell phones. Put the food on the table and you could change the geography from a restaurant to their own living room and everything else but clean up would be exactly the same.

How We can Save Small Businesses in California

Small business owner in California restaurant holding up thank you for your order sign

For the record, I am not immune to the financial struggles these shutdowns are causing many Americans, primarily small business owners, I know. I am one of them. But I would rather rip the band-aid off and deal with it once than peel a little, stick it back on, and peel a little again, prolonging the healing and increasing the pain.

The bottom line is if we want to get back to a somewhat normal life, and save small businesses, Californians need to grasp the reality that all the protest and tantrums about wearing masks and shut downs are in fact making it worse and prolonging the financial hardships. They are also putting small businesses at risk of getting sued by patrons who were “forced” to be in an unsafe situation while patronizing their employees. Or employees who were forced to work in unsafe situations. This past Tuesday the family of a Publix employee who died from COVID filed a lawsuit against the corporation for unsafe working conditions. Oh, and the businesses that say they will ignore the Governor’s mandates and stay open. Stay tuned for part two, which mark my words will be these businesses losing their liability insurance which then would be a domino effect of losing their business licenses, commercial leases, etc.

Californians need to come together and collectively adhere to these guidelines for the next three weeks and call others out who don’t. Yes, for this, I am calling all Karens. This doesn’t work if we are all not on board. This is not about controlling us. I know the dude on Facebook or blogging from his Mom’s basement in his fuzzy bunny slippers wants you to believe that, but it’s simply not true. Like it or not, we are all on this journey. The question is do you want to take the freeway or the back roads in a beat up station wagon that keeps breaking down. The choice, or shall I say civil liberty, is yours.

Will you do what is necessary to save small businesses in California? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.