World wide, wearing masks prevented millions of hospitalizations and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. When vaccines became widely available, they prevented millions of hospitalizations and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Both could have saved many more lives, prevented many more hospitalizations but for opposition to masking and vaccination. So why were so many Americans opposed to the requiring of wearing masks and vaccination?
“An infringement of their freedom,” they said. Their exercising of this ‘freedom’ greatly extended the lifespan of the pandemic and increased the hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. Was it their right to do so?
In the early days of the pandemic, before the vaccine and before much was known about the virus, how to prevent the spread, or how to treat the infected; healthcare workers around the world worked until they couldn’t, grabbed a few hours sleep, then went back to work. So many healthcare workers were infected and died; sacrificed their lives for us. They gave so much. Their loss was a national tragedy. In those early days, it was ‘best effort’, ‘best thinking’, on everyone’s part.
After the vaccines became widely available, most of those hospitalized with COVID, of those dying from COVID, were unvaccinated. Since the wide availability of vaccines, most of those long shift after shift hours by healthcare workers went toward patients who refused to wear masks and/or to be vaccinated. Was it their right to impose this great burden on healthcare workers? The nation? Their loved ones? In the name of their personal freedom?
Over the past year, we’ve seen too many of these healthcare worker heroes dropout of the healthcare field. They are burned out, exhausted. It takes years to train nurses and doctors to perform at these high levels. Replacing them will neither be easy nor quick.
Many of those who contracted the virus will have long-term, long COVID, effects, some of which are disabling. With or without long-term effects, COVID infections will impact the lives of many Americans, their families, and the nation’s healthcare system for generations. We don’ yet know all the long-term effects of COVID. After the vaccines became widely available, it was overwhelmingly those opposed to masking and vaccination who contracted COVID, who were hospitalized. Some of those who opposed masking and vaccination who were infected and survived will have disabling long-term effects; will be an added burden to their families and the healthcare system for generations. Many of those opposed to masking and vaccination died from COVID. Their deaths will impact the lives of their loved ones for generations. Was it their right to impose the added burden, the pain of their deaths, on others?
To be clear, the requirements by governmental agencies and commercial entities for the wearing of masks and proof of vaccination weren’t about making anyone do something, they were about saving lives and reducing the strain on the healthcare system. Wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, could prevent your getting infected, your infecting others; could free up medical resources for things other COVID: could save your life, the lives of others. They are trying to save your life!
“An infringement on their freedoms,” they said. Their opposition to masking and vaccination in the name of their freedoms was one of the most selfish, self-centered acts, the nation has witnessed. They may have had some right to die for their freedoms. They had no right to cause the pain and suffering of others; the deaths of others. Will they now claim the right to drive on the roadways under the influence in the name of their freedom?
It does seem likely that there are certain inalienable rights accorded us all. Surely none imaginable would include the right to do so at the expense of others; to bring harm or injury to others.
So whence these claims to freedoms by Americans opposed to masking and vaccine mandates? Were they from law? Religious belief? The media? Entertainment?
The Declaration of Independence, circa 4 July 1776, declares that we are endowed by our creator with certain ‘unalienable’ (now usually interpreted as inalienable) Rights. Declares that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Doesn’t say anything about freedoms.
Neither does the U.S. Constitution, as ratified 21 June 1778. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, circa 15 December 1791, protects the freedom of speech, the right of assembly, the right to bear arms, the right of the people to be secure in their homes, the right to a speedy and public trial by jury, and others retained by the people. The 14th Amendment, passed Senate 8 June 1866, ratified 9 July 1868, doesn’t speak to freedoms, but it does speak to Civil Rights.
There seems little premise in law for their claims.
Written two thousand and many more years ago, the bible speaks of freedom from slavery, from sin. Doesn’t speak to masks and vaccines.
Could be that their claims to are premised on media pontificators. Widely believed, but hardly a defense.
Hollywood has washed many an American, world, brain. Yet, it still is only entertainment. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, and professional athletes are entertainers.
Webster’s defines personal freedom as freedom of the person in going and coming, equality before the courts, security of private property, freedom of opinion and its expression, and freedom of conscience subject to the rights of others and of the public. Defines personal liberty as the freedom of the individual to do as he pleases limited only by the authority of politically organized society to regulate his action to secure the public health, safety, or morals or other recognized social interests. Defines civil liberty as freedom from arbitrary governmental interference (as with the right of free speech) specifically by denial of governmental power and in the U.S. especially as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Wikipedia says that civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation, or judicial interpretation, without due process. Equates civil liberties and personal freedoms.
FDR, in his The Four Freedoms speech of 1941 proposed the addition of freedom from want and freedom from fear to those for speech and worship.
Is there any evidence in support of these claims to personal freedom from doing what is right? It isn’t about what someone feels like, what someone likes or don’t like, wants or doesn’t want to do; it is about what should be done.