“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” —Judaism
I am getting really tired of those people that are protesting against wearing facemasks, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings. They make inane statements such as, “I trust my immune system to protect me,” or “this whole Covid thing is an overblown hoax,” or “this virus won’t affect me / my age group” (actual quotes!). Then, in a moment of ignorant defiance, they say some version of, “It is my choice to decide what to do, and my Constitutional Right to decide what risk level I am willing to take.”
I will most certainly concede that it is every adult American’s freedom of choice to determine how they will respond to a potential danger – as long as the consequences of that risk decision stay only with that individual. That said, one does not have a right to such a unilateral decision if that risk also becomes my risk without my permission. In reality, all Constitutional Rights are granted with the obligation of Constitutional Responsibility. (We have a right to drive a car, but not when we Drive Under the Influence that puts other innocent drivers and pedestrians at risk. We have a right to possess a firearm, but not after we have committed a violent crime.)
“A man obtains a proper rule of action by looking on his neighbor as himself.” —Hinduism
With Covid-19, if one contracts the disease, it is virtually guaranteed that s/he will infect numerous others, who will in turn infect more others, ad infinitum, regardless of whether symptoms are apparent or not. One’s voluntary risk decision thereby becomes the involuntary and unknowing risk decision for family members, friends, and strangers. As well, one is adversely impacting the efforts of numerous inadequately-supported health care professionals and emergency responders trying desperately to keep alive an overwhelming number of seriously ill people.
“… practicing virtue in order to benefit others, this man alone is happy.” —Buddhism
So you can choose to rock climb with no rope; hang glide with no parachute; canoe over Niagara Falls with no helmet or life preserver; or do a solitary hike across the war-torn Syrian desert. Exercise your Right to choose your own risk. I may have a concern about your well-being, but you are free to be as stupid or smart about your life as you see fit. But when your claim of a Right of Risk attempts to negate my Right to Life and Liberty, you are required to surrender your Right of choice to a Responsibility to the Community that nurtures and sustains you.
“No one is a believer until he loves for his neighbor, and for his brother,
what he loves for himself.” —Islam
Wear the mask. Keep your distance. If not for you, then for your parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse and children. Even in this independent-minded Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, it is not always about just us. It is also about our responsibility to others. Maybe, just maybe, in meeting that responsibility, we might even inadvertently benefit ourselves, and thereby avoid becoming yet another one of the very real statistics with “I Showed Them” or “I Should Have Listened To Them After All” carved on their tombstone.
Caring for one another. It is the challenge given to us that is shared by every major religion. It is such a simple challenge that we inexplicably continue to make so difficult to achieve.
“… that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” —Christian
© 2020 Randy Bell https://ThoughtsFromTheMountain.blogspot.com