A look around at our coronavirus-obsessed world leaves those of us still possessing common sense with one question: What on earth have we become?

This question arises when viewing videos such as this one, where a pregnant, Catholic mother refusing to wear a mask is cited for trespassing during a Mass in Dallas, Texas. This young woman broke neither the mandates of the governor of that state nor of the bishop of that diocese, but was nevertheless reported to the police in the middle of Mass by the pastor of the parish. One of the ushers reportedly shouted, “Arrest her!” and then went to the parking lot to record her license plate number.

Three police officers—three!—showed up to haul her out of Mass and accuse her of violating the regulations of a business, i.e. the church. They then issued her a ticket for trespassing, forbidding her attendance at any future services at that church.

I’m not indulging in hyperbole when I say that some among us have lost their minds. Like fashionistas, who devote themselves to the intricate workings of the fashion industry, we now have “Coronavistas” in our midst, devoted to upholding the precise regulations which allegedly help prevent the spread of the virus.

Here in Virginia the nonsense continues. Nearly everyone in the local grocery store wears a mask. If you want to buy a bottle of vodka from the ABC store, put on a mask. In the coffee shop and other restaurants I sometimes visit, patrons are required to wear a mask when entering those establishments, but may then remove the mask throughout the course of their meal. Why is that? Does the virus only attack human beings on their feet?

My local library requires patrons to wear a mask and it also quarantines all returned books for three days. For months, they quarantined books for five days, but they have now reduced that time. Were either of those book quarantine times based on science? If we can catch the virus from a book, then the librarians shouldn’t allow visitors like me to roam the library shelves, touching book after book.

Meanwhile, in a tiny convenience store off the beaten path in my town, no one—not the owners, not the employees, not the customers—wears a mask. I go there frequently for various supplies, and as far as I know, none of these folks have keeled over from COVID-19. Do country folks and rednecks know more than our experts?

Thankfully it seems that some experts  have not lost their minds and become “Coronavistas.” Dr. Scott Atlas is one of these, and in an article written for Hillsdale College’s Imprimis, he assails the mainstream media and the medical establishment’s advocacy of masks, closures, and lockdowns. He accuses publications like the Journal of the American Medical AssociationThe Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Science of being contaminated by politics.

I have been shocked at the unprecedented exertion of power by the government since last March—issuing unilateral decrees, ordering the closure of businesses, churches, and schools, restricting personal movement, mandating behavior, and suspending indefinitely personal freedoms. Second, I was and remained stunned—almost frightened—at the acquiescence of the American people to such destructive, arbitrary, and wholly unscientific rules, restrictions, and mandates.

Atlas concludes his article with these words:

With social media acting as the arbiter of allowable discussion, and with continued censorship and cancellation of those with views challenging the ‘accepted narrative,’ the United States is on the verge of losing its cherished freedoms. It is not at all clear whether our democratic republic will survive—but it is clear it will not survive unless more people begin to step up in defense of freedom of thought and speech.

Meanwhile, our shutdowns damaged our children’s education and emotional development, restricted our religious practices, killed off tens of thousands of small businesses, brought a booming economy to its knees, and separated all of us from one another.

Were these sacrifices worthwhile? Were they beneficial?

We may never know the answers to these questions. What is perfectly clear, however, is that Atlas’s conclusions are right on the money. Big tech, corporations, many of our universities, and our federal and state governments have spent the last year silencing critics of their policies and usurping American liberties.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams stated, “Liberty once lost is lost forever.”

There is no magical formula to guarantee the preservation of our freedoms, but there are steps all of us can take to regain and keep our liberties. Listening skeptically to the mainstream media and to government officials, voting, protesting to our elected leaders at all levels when our rights are trampled, engaging when possible in peaceful disobedience like that woman in church: these are but a few possibilities.

Most of all, however, we must keep the fires of freedom burning in our hearts. It is that liberty which makes America unique.