As the COVID-19 virus and behavior restrictions linger, frustrations grow, spawning irresponsible reactions by some.
An angry man spewed a glob of spit onto the mask of a Presbyterian minister out shopping in Jackson. In Michigan a man wiped his nose and mouth on a store clerk’s shirt when he was told to wear a mask. Also in Michigan a security guard was killed after telling a woman to leave a store because she was not wearing a mask. In Washington a customer and employee had an altercation when the customer insisted, “I’m not doing it because I woke up in a free country.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, Ronald Reagan speechwriter, and weekly columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan has called for better behavior. “A mask isn’t a sign of submission as some idiots claim,” she wrote. “It’s a sign of respect, responsibility and economic encouragement. It says, ‘I’ll do my small part.’
Gov. Tate Reeves has called on Mississippians to wear face masks in public. “Use common sense,” he said. “Let’s do the little things for the next few days and weeks and it will go a long ways to help ourselves and our fellow Mississippians.”
Dr. David Aronoff, director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases and professor of medicine, offers this. “We’re all hopeful that this pandemic disappears. Then we can stop doing as much risk mitigation. But for now, we really depend on the trust and kindness of others to protect our wellbeing. And that’s part of being an American.”
Many seem willing to use common sense and do their part. But that trust and kindness thing seems beyond those who see the whole pandemic thing as a hoax and those who resent that their “freedoms” are being infringed upon.
Thomas Friedman is another Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. In a New York Times column he lamented that “we’ve let ourselves be dumb-as-we-wanna-be for so many years” that we struggle in a crisis requiring dutiful behavior. He quoted a 75-year-old retiree from Minnesota, who said, “And what are we now? We’re mean. We’re selfish. We’re stubborn and sometimes even incompetent.”
Friedman sees President Donald Trump egging on this dissidence. “At a time when we need high social trust in order to have a coordinated response at home, Trump’s political strategy of dividing us and playing everything both ways — even telling people both to rise up against their governors and to lock down according to his guidelines — is the opposite of the ‘all in this together’ approach we need to win this battle,” wrote Friedman.
A friend reading Jon Meacham’s “Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship” commented on the two leaders’ inspiring and uplifting discourse during their worldwide crisis and lamented Trump’s inability (unwillingness?) to do the same.
Gov. Reeves said Mississippians “still believe in personal responsibility” which aligns with Noonan’s call for respect and responsibility.
“People need hope,” said Noonan, what Roosevelt and Churchill provided, not confusion, contradiction, and dissension.
“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” – Hebrews 3:13.
» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.
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