Our way of life in the United States is based upon the fundamental right of self-determination and personal freedom. Just let any public official attempt to impose restrictions on individuals that might be uncomfortable or inconvenient. A hue and cry will be heard across the land, and more than likely we will largely ignore such impositions. No matter that the actions in question may be for the overall public good. Of course, I am talking about wearing masks and social distancing during the pandemic.
When the COVID-19 virus ripped into our society some eighteen months ago, despite the mountains of disinformation and confusion that emanated from the government, two things became obvious early on. First, the virus was much more impactful and deadly for older folks. Some 80-90% of deaths occurred among senior citizens. It hardly affected young people in their twenties and thirties. Second, many of the latter group ignored the requested precautions and even flaunted them. The “me” generation, who were used to immediate gratification of all things worthwhile, could not be bothered. That they could be carriers prone to infect older people seemed of little consequence to them. They weren’t likely to get sick or die, so why bother with masks and social distancing, those dreadful infringements on our inalienable civil rights?
Thankfully, vaccines arrived and now much of the elderly population is protected. Unfortunately, the prevailing ‘it won’t hit me attitude’ among younger population segments has precluded mass inoculations among those groups. They could not be bothered to become vaccinated. Suddenly, a new more contagious strain of the virus is sweeping through the country. Infection rates and hospitalizations have skyrocketed. Virtually all the recent cases are among the unvaccinated.
Social distancing and mask wearing is again being called for. As I watch the news and note crowds at athletic events, so far, I observe precious few masks. Hopefully, this practice will change soon, but if it doesn’t perhaps there is a bit of understandable retributive justice among the older, protected crowd. You didn’t care about us last year. Why should we care about you?
Isn’t freedom wonderful?