Entitlement: this is what passes as a “Constitutional Right” even as we, as a nation, confront potential existential threats to our “pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The threats seem to be ubiquitous. Ones such as environmental degradation, political divisiveness, income inequality and racial injustice are long term, systemic, and need to be dealt with through legislation, the courts, and at the voting booth. But another is immediate and it is a behavioral issue: COVID-19. Changing behavior is not something that can be merely legislated or policed. It is more of a matter of acting with an esprit de corps.
During the Spanish Flu of 1918 there were no antibiotics, steroids, ventilators, and no “Hail Mary” prospects of an effective vaccine or even a therapeutic. Some 675,000 people died yet that number would have been much higher had not certain measures been widely adopted. Which ones? You guessed it, wearing a mask, social distancing, use of disinfectants and cancelling schools and large public gatherings. It was proven then that social distancing works.
Even with the advantage of modern medicine, we have more than 125,000 deaths in the United States from CV-19. This tally is already approaching 20% of the total of the Spanish Flu 100 years before, but we’re only four months or so into this pandemic. And, the United States seriously trails other developed nations in controlling this, proving our utter ineffectual leadership. One only has to compare our curve (which is really not a curve, but a flattening out and now another peak) to those of Europe, South Korea, Japan, and China. No wonder we are now on the EU list of countries whose citizens are not welcome.
There are those who claim their right to not wear masks and to congregate in large crowds as being their “constitutional” right to do so (even our Vice President implied the latter last weekend). In an embarrassing video of a recent Palm Beach County Commissioner’s meeting where they voted for mandatory face masks (as if there was any question), impassioned opposition comments included one woman saying it was equivalent to her being denied her individual freedom not to wear underpants.
No, lady, that is a false equivalency as not wearing underwear does not endanger anyone else. Perhaps she’s never heard of the “promoting the general welfare” clause which IS enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution. (Indeed, there is nothing about wearing face masks or panties for that matter.)
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The point is, in order to secure the common good in this pandemic, we all need to work together. How in the world did we conflate not wearing face masks with an “individual liberty?” Perhaps it can be traced to our President’s statements and his behavior which his sycophants (such as our Florida Governor) mimic. Our President even implied that some Americans might wear face masks not as a way to prevent the spread of CV-19 but as a way to “signal disapproval of him.” It’s always about him, not about our welfare.
During WW II Americans had to sacrifice for the common good. Ration cards were given out for virtually every commodity. Imagine if this generation was asked to sacrifice their “right” to fuel and sugar? We would have lost that war and we are going to have more and more needless deaths in this CV-19 war because our lack of national leadership and thus our failure to pull together as a nation. Those who refuse to follow or deny scientific advice on attacking this critical threat are not patriots, but traitors.