Some way, somehow, wearing a mask in the United States has become an issue split down ideological lines. I hesitate to say party lines because it’s not that clearly drawn but people tend to fall into two camps; Those who wear a paper or cloth mask when going out in public because it is useful in containing the spread of the virus, by protecting others and possibly one’s self. Also in the mask camp are those that aren’t sure of effectiveness but realize wearing one is expected, sometimes required, and they figure it can’t hurt anything. Those not wearing masks are taking a stand on freedom. I’ve read a lot of slippery slope speeches, claiming that if we give up one or two basic liberties that’s a first step in losing all our freedom and liberty. I have friends in real life that claim wearing a mask now, in the middle of a global pandemic – which many other countries have done a much better job getting under control – will lead to the government telling us in the near future what to wear, what kind of car to drive, who we can be friends with, etc.
A time or two on the Deja Vu I’ve dispensed with the usual format and published a single topic long-form essay. I wrote such an essay earlier this week on Facebook. There’s a lot of talk about rights but we used to speak in terms of rights and responsibilities. The Christian believer in particular is instructed to give consideration to the needs of others ahead of their own, even if that idea isn’t very American. It used to be. What follows is word for word what I posted to Facebook earlier this week, beginning with a little historical perspective.
We hear a lot these days about what Nazi Germany did during WWII. Yes, 6 million Jews (and 4 million gypsies, mentally/physically handicapped, blacks and homosexuals) died during the Holocaust. But what did Americans do during WWII? The US Army had 16 million men serving and by 1945 the Navy had nearly 1,200 major combatant ships. Those that stayed home grew “victory gardens” as staples such as meat, flour and sugar were rationed. Shoes and other dry goods were rationed and factories that built cars and appliances switched over to building things like tanks and airplane engines. Kids collected glass bottles and scrap metal to donate for recycling. Americans purchased $185.7 billion worth of war bonds. That was billion, with a b, in the early 1940’s.
The Greatest Generation united behind a common cause. Allied forces landing on the beaches of northern of France on D-Day faced almost certain death, the 2nd and 3rd waves of troops marching over the bodies of those that landed first. The “freedoms” some are fighting for today, like going out without a mask and congregating in large groups at bars and parties, are the very reason the virus continues to spread in this country while pretty much every other country has stopped the spread. That doesn’t make you a patriot. If Walmart and Kroger employees can wear a paper mask 8 to 10 hours each shift, as they have been for the past 3 months, you can tough it out for 30 minutes. Or schedule grocery pickup or home delivery. Asking you to wear a mask in public is not a violation of your civil liberties.
Yes, the virus has a 99% survival rate. But if 1% of our population dies, that’s over 3 million people. The number of hospitalizations and hours of labor lost would be unfathomable and our economy, whatever kind of shape it’s in now, would be decimated. Freedom is not everybody going out and doing whatever they want. That’s anarchy. We hear a lot about our rights these days. Citizenship is about rights and responsibilities. We have a responsibility to the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, to one another in general, to do what we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its effects on our healthcare system, school systems and economy.
Conservatives talk a lot about snowflakes. Telling me you can’t wear a paper mask for 10 minutes to run in Walmart sound pretty snowflake to me. Doctors and nurses have been wearing masks for 12 hours shifts for decades. Watch a rerun of MASH. Are you seriously trying to convince me that wearing one causes brain damage from lack of oxygen?
Wear the mask or stay home.