Recently, the L.A. mayor encouraged that “snitches get rewards.” Similar sentiments have been promoted by governments across this nation. I fear we Minnesotans might easily fall prey to this mentality — not because we are tempted by “rewards” but because we have a culture of following rules. In general, this is a good thing. For real crimes, like murder or theft, we should report what we know to authorities.
But we are now living in a time of sudden and often arbitrary rules being handed down by the government. Rules that criminalize normal, everyday behavior. This, coupled with a culture of snitching on our neighbors, is one of the hallmarks of authoritarian government. This is the kind of atmosphere that existed in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Currently in our country, citizens are encouraged to report if mothers take their children to playgrounds or if pastors attempt to hold drive-in-style church services. It is a short and slippery slope to a world where people turn in their grandmother for reading a Bible.
Participating in this spirit of snitching, of reporting neighbors for going about their lives, is wrong. We need to reject fear and reject hysteria. Instead, we should cultivate a spirit of calm, confident love for each other. Your neighbor might make slightly different choices than you do in this era of social distancing — and that is OK. Let’s focus on loving our neighbors.