By D. Allan Kerr
I swear I intended to end an absolutely horrid year on a positive literary note.
The column you’re reading now was going to embrace the holiday spirit like Scrooge reborn after meeting his Christmas ghosts; like George Bailey returned to his wonderful life by the angel Clarence.
Then I made the mistake of reading Facebook. Again.
2020 featured plenty of chaos and turmoil – the coronavirus, police shootings, rioting in the streets, insane election conspiracies.
But the undercurrent running beneath all these issues was a mass, almost willful stupidity.
Ongoing complaints about having to wear masks in the middle of a deadly pandemic really struck home in particular for me over the past couple weeks.
Astoundingly, while more than 330,000 Americans – and counting – have died so far as a result of COVID-19, a lot of those still with us are feeling “put out” by the inconvenience of having to wear a piece of cloth over their nose and mouth.
It’s all hype, they say.
It’s unconstitutional, they whine.
You see slogans like, “I will not wear someone else’s fear!”
These pundits seem in general to be the kind of people who don’t believe a situation is of consequence until it affects them personally.
You know the type.
They’re the kind of folks opposed to federally funded assistance – until they need it. They’re convinced systemic racism doesn’t exist in America – until they experience it firsthand. They don’t see the benefit of marriage equality – until their child wants to marry someone of the same sex. (And maybe not even then.)
Likewise, they won’t recognize the severity of this coronavirus until they actually lose someone they love.
Now, if these individuals are legitimately, genuinely concerned over constitutional infringement and not just looking for an excuse to bitch and complain, they should go full throttle and embrace their beloved freedom to the fullest extent.
Because, by extension, you know what else could be considered unconstitutional? Stop signs. Seat-belt laws. Crosswalks. Who’s to tell us when to step on the brakes of vehicles we purchase and repair and fill with gas?
The next time you’re driving your car and the government says you have to stop, you blow right thru that stop sign or red light. As a parent, it is up to you, not lawmakers, to decide whether you should buckle in your kid or grandkid. If you want to stroll across a busy intersection, go for it.
When you’re at a beach and there’s a sign saying you can’t go into the water because of sharks, you stand proud in your red-white-and-blue swimsuit and say, “Hey buddy, this is freaking America. If I want to swim in shark-infested waters, I’m gonna swim in shark-infested waters!”
If you’re at a public park funded by your taxpayer dollars and they forbid you to feed the bears, to hell with that! You drove a long way and paid hard-earned money to visit this park. You go ahead and feed those bears. Feed them a live fish, from your mouth to theirs, if you so desire.
That’s your constitutional right.
When you’re on a public sidewalk and someone tells you to walk a different route because they’re using explosives to demolish a building, you saunter right on by, brother. Not even an act of Congress should dictate where you can and cannot walk on the streets of America.
Of course, the big difference in most of these instances is that you would be the only person harmed.
When folks refuse to wear something over their face during a pandemic, they’re also putting neighbors and family, fellow shoppers and total strangers at risk. It’s really the ultimate selfish act.
The current White House administration projected earlier this year a “best-case” scenario in which 100,000 to 200,000 Americans would die of COVID-related causes, if proper protocols were followed.
I have to admit, I was certain they jacked up those figures to make themselves look good when the death toll inevitably petered out at the lower end of that scale.
We clearly underestimated the sheer incompetence of this effort, which will now result in twice as many fatalities by the first of February as originally projected for the entire course of the disease. Even by their own standards, this White House has failed on an epic level.
Curiously, many of those opposed to the wearing of masks in public also dispute the effectiveness of vaccines recently approved for release.
The reason I find this curious is because a lot of these individuals proclaim themselves to be supporters of Donald Trump, who points to the vaccines as his crowning achievement in the war against COVID-19.
If the vaccines are bogus, then what exactly has Trump accomplished in fighting this pandemic?
(I also can’t help but notice the same folks who oppose the science of fighting the coronavirus and doubt the validity of vaccines but embrace every right-leaning election conspiracy they encounter also tend to deny climate change is really a thing. But that’s a point to revisit at another time.)
Trust me, I’m not a fan of masks either. They’re a pain in the ass, and if I earned a quarter every time I forgot to bring one I’d have a pretty comfortable retirement.
But it’s not about me – it’s about the person beside me who won’t get sick because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced.
Putting the welfare of others ahead of our own would really represent the holiday spirit, don’t you think?
D. Allan Kerr is once again in awe of the sacrifices made by The Greatest Generation, who endured far worse inconveniences than those we’re experiencing.
(Dec. 27, 2020)
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He can also be found on seacoastonline.com