This weekend we celebrate Independence Day. In 1776 the American colonies threw off the yoke of the British Empire. It took six more years of war following that Declaration of Independence to fully secure our freedom. In signing the Declaration of Independence the Founding Fathers ingrained in the American public a strong sentiment of rebellion toward government. This has created a strong resistance to being told what to do.
Today, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing that resistance playing out in a most unusual way. The major battle being fought today is not over the freedom to go to the beach or bowling or to have a barbecue. American freedom, for many, is read as freedom to not wear a face mask in public.
The correct response to this pandemic has been a moving target from the beginning, and the wearing of masks was an early controversy. Since then, a consensus has been reached that wearing masks in public is a very cheap and effective way to drastically slow the spread.
The pandemic was politicized within days of its recognition as a public health crisis. Every aspect of the response, from bailout funds to whom can be blamed, has become the subject of political posturing. The virus does not care about where you are from or if you support Trump or Biden. This virus will infect anyone and everyone it possibly can. If you are unlucky and are in a high-risk group, or very unlucky and have a severe response, this virus will kill you.
Faced with such a severe and dangerous threat the natural question is “what can I do?” The answers are simple enough and we have heard them ad infinitum. Social distance, wash your hands, avoid large groups, and if you have to go out in public WEAR A MASK. Wearing a mask doesn’t mean you are for the Democrats or against the Republicans. Wearing a mask only means you are for humanity and against the virus.
People cite many reasons for not wearing masks, but “freedom” is not an acceptable one. America fought long and hard for our freedom from England and we continue fighting for our freedoms. Wearing a mask in no way diminishes those freedoms. Wearing a mask is an exercise of the personal responsibility that freedom demands. What we need to remember is that in throwing off the yoke of English rule we placed that yoke squarely on our own shoulders. The yoke is not on the American government, but on every individual. Freedom requires making the right choices to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
So wear the mask proudly as an American. Wear the mask not because the government told you to but because we are all in this together and it is one of the best weapons we have against the true enemy in this battle.