One of these days I won’t be writing about COVID anymore; today is not that day.
2021 has been a year where we have been continually turning the corner. It’s a long corner my friends. We’re still turning it. And new issues keep popping up as we navigate this unprecedented pandemic.
I still think we’re going to come out of it okay. But there are other, darker times when I think it is going to take out a third of humanity before it’s done.
And it’s the part of me that sometimes gets startled into thinking about unimaginable human loss that requires me to keep my mask in my glove box and dutifully wear it whenever I am in a place where I can’t be certain that everybody else has been vaccinated. I don’t wear it for me so much. I wear it for you.
I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about our collective duty relative to the pandemic. When Pearl Harbor was attacked before most of us were born, our grandparents and great grandparents understood their duty to humanity. When the World Trade Center and our nation’s capital was attacked almost twenty years ago, we each had an understanding of our patriotic duties in the moment. We stood arm in arm, together.
Now as our neighbors, friends, and families are personally attacked by a virulent disease, and our businesses crumble under the weight of the pandemic, the discussion has not centered so much on collective obligation but rather on personal choice.
And I don’t get it. I suppose whether you get vaccinated or not is a personal choice if the issue is tetanus or the flu. I suppose whether you wear a mask or not is a personal choice if the issue is air pollution. But those are not the issues.
The issues are public health. And whether I get vaccinated or not impacts you and your family, not just me and mine. Because if the virus can no longer attack me, then you don’t have to worry about it attacking you if you come into contact with me.
I maintain, and I have since this whole thing started, that getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is a patriotic duty. It is a solemn obligation. (I can hear your howling out there).
The vaccine and the masks are not about protecting you personally. They are about protecting the public health. Each of us has a duty and obligation to pitch in to protect the public health. It is why we have sewage systems. It is why we protect our public water supplies.
When the virus attacks you or a member of your family, it is tragic for you. But it also exposes everybody you come in contact with to the potential for their own personal tragedy. Vaxxing and masking stop that death spiral at your doorstep. Which is why everyone should get the vax and wear the mask, even at the risk that the vaccination turns out to have some side effect that we don’t yet know about.
The kids who signed up to go overseas and face down the Germans had to take the risk of taking a bullet for their countrymen. They did it with grace and courage. This is our war. It is time for us to risk taking the bullet. So roll up your sleeve and take the risk. It is – literally – the least you can do.
And once you do, you will have done your part to help all of us to get back to business.