Care about those around you – wear a mask


I have watched with consternation and dismay – and, yes, sadness – at the happenings in my home state. I think back to March when so many of us willingly stayed home. We sewed masks for our essential workers, family and friends and checked if our neighbors had enough toilet paper.

What happened? Was it too much too soon? Was it the abysmal failure of our government to act in that window of time that we sacrificed to open?

But that’s water under the bridge. Now I follow various city council meetings – Brookings, Sioux Falls, Rapid City – to hear people spout “freedom” and all manner of debunked pseudoscience and downright falsehoods.

Yes, freedom means free to, but it also means free from. Most of our laws are written to free us from selfish, thoughtless, or dangerous acts of others. The criminal code, building codes, traffic regulations, etc.

In an instance analogous to the mask issue, I have the freedom to smoke cigarettes but not the freedom to inflict my second hand smoke on others. The ban on indoor smoking in public areas gives others freedom from the distasteful and unhealthy byproducts of my smoking. As Spock said, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

These city council mask hearings have shown far too many of my fellow Dakotans as whiny, petulant, selfish children.

“I don’t want to.”

“It’s inconvenient.”

“I can’t breathe.”

And ignoring the overwhelming consensus of experts, “They don’t work.”

Sheesh! Did your parents raise you to be like this? Or would they slap you upside the head and tell you to get in line and behave? You’re all old enough to know better.

Yes, our government at all levels left us in the lurch big time with its mishandling of the pandemic. That doesn’t mean we need to abandon and stop caring about those around us. Think of masking as a life raft. Not one where another person can sink us but one where every additional person on board increases our chances for survival.

Seriously, people. This is not about you and your poor little fee-fees and your need to be free to. It’s about society’s – of which you are part – ability to be free from  your thoughtless, rude and potentially deadly petulance.