A Balancing Act between our Health and the Economy
I recently listened to a favorite radio talk show Viewpoint This Sunday on the America Out Loud platform. The topic of discussion was about wearing facemasks. The consensus appeared to be that it was unwarranted, unhealthy, and unnecessary. The dialogue between the Radio Host, Malcolm, and his guest speakers, focused particularly on their individual rights. They also shared a frustration at the glances and visual scorns they received when not wearing a facemask in public areas.
The next day I read an article about a birthday party in Pasadena, California. During the shelter-at-home orders, a large group of extended family members and close friends got together for a celebration. They did not social distance. They did not wear a facemask. Five partygoers tested positive, and through contact tracing officials discovered many more in attendance had become ill.
All of this led me to think about my rights and responsibilities to society. As our country slowly reopens, I suspect it will function a bit differently, for a while at least. But we remain a thriving society based on its foundation of freedom and the principles it is built upon. I decided to look up the textbook definition of society and it reads like this:
a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.
Two things caught my attention: large social group sharing and political authority. Oliver Wendell Holmes instantly came to mind with his famous quote, “that no free speech safeguard would cover someone falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” The U.S. Supreme Court agreed and upheld the illegality of the use of dangerous speech.
Here’s my takeaway: For us to function in a free society we must consider the language we use to express our ideas and beliefs. Equally important, our actions must not bring harm to our fellow citizens.
I’ve watched many of the protests around the country with people fighting for their businesses to reopen and jobs to come back; acts which underscore one of our most treasured freedoms. But I’m taken aback by the number of people in the crowds not wearing facemasks or social distancing. The same parameters that have been suggested by our federal government and imposed by state governments, at varying degrees around the country. I also believe it is equally just for a business owners to demand the same. Ultimately, it’s our choice to comply or not but at the same time consider the rights of other.
I live in Florida and needless to say, it’s a hotspot. As of this writing, 41,923 confirmed cases and 1,779 deaths have been reported. Each day I check for new cases and deaths, specific to my county. To date, we have 435 confirmed cases, 57 deaths and 4 new deaths reported as of yesterday. Sixty-one too many.
I realize in every State, and at the county level, they have different demographics and statistics, which takes me back to my original premise: we all have the personal freedom of choice to decide how and when we move forward. And where you live specifically, may determine your choices. If there is any blame to be placed at the federal level, it is the one-size-fits-all strategy…but I digress.
In the final analysis, when I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or worse yet, the flu, I stay away from my husband’s face. Simply because I don’t want to make him sick. If I came in contact with the invisible monster, the Covid-19 virus, the one with no warning signs, I could seriously infect the ones I love—and the ones I don’t even know. I might end up asymptomatic or end up with a horrible flu-like illness. But if I unknowingly infected my husband—it could be devastating.
So, I wear my mask because it’s not worth the risk. And I will do so until I feel it’s safe. Also, I don’t shout fire in the theatre.
ADDENDUM: I sent a copy of this blog to Malcolm, founder of America Out Loud and host for Viewpoint this Sunday and Voice of a Nation. Surprisingly, I was invited to be on Voice of the Nation on May 12th to speak on the topic. Click on the image below to hear the actual show that went to podcast: