Human life is much about prudence, the virtue by which we see the true good in every circumstance, and to choose the right means of achieving it. It is a perfection of practical reason, which should take into account ideals, even if we may never fully attain them.

Everyone of right mind wants to preserve and protect life, but with the realization that illness and death, along with the risk of either, are inevitable, and must be tolerated, ‘baked in’, if you will, to keep society functioning. Taking risks – as in Reinhold Messner’s numerous mountain ascents – or minimizing risks – staying at home to avoid illness – are both decisions made with prudence, and can only be assessed as morally good or bad in the concrete conditions in which they are made.

One sign of a ‘right decision’ is that it is made in due proportion between the good sought, and the means to attain it. Disproportion between these is a sign of imprudence: Paying too much for a used car. Climbing a mountain when ill-prepared to do so. Marrying someone out from physical attraction, when you are clearly incompatible. And, to the point of this reflection, interminably locking down an entire population to prevent the spread of an airborne illness.

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