Letter to the Editor: Wear a mask

To the Editor:

Sometimes one might read something ridiculous which results in humor; however, humor is quickly replaced by indignation as one realizes it was not written in jest or satire. This is my reaction to a letter entitled “Suggesting everyone do their research regarding COVID-19 vaccine” written in the 12/23/2020 edition of this newspaper.

To quote the writer of that letter, “I am not a doctor or an expert on medical things.” Perhaps this is where she should have ended the letter before submitting it.

I similarly am not a medical expert, and instead will listen to the recommendations of scientists and medical professionals. I long for the day in which Americans will once again place value in education and intelligence rather than to scoff at it.

My first issue with this letter comes from the idea that COVID-19 is a “Trojan Horse being used as an excuse to overtake our constitutional republic.” The sheer hubris to make a claim that a global pandemic in which millions have died and countries around the world have suffered economically is a prime example of American ignorance. Most people around the world are intrigued by American politics, but do not care who our leaders are.

The idea that “if America falls, the world falls” is similarly absurd. We are not the center of the universe and many countries do things better than we do (i.e. universal healthcare). To combat the inevitable “if you don’t like it here then leave” argument, I would rather try to make my country better, than to abandon her completely.

Some like to claim the mortality rate of COVID-19 is less than one percent. Simple math will reveal that one percent of 325 million is 3.25 million people. America will reach that number only if we do nothing to combat the spread. The “herd immunity” plan pushed by the outgoing administration (hallelujah) would result in this level of death.

The “communist rule for radicals in which a fearful population is easier to control” does not apply here. No one is saying we should be scared. We should be informed. We should be mindful and diligent. We should be principled and follow the recommendations of scientists, not crazy people on conservative podcasts.

The reason for masks, social distancing and shutdowns (when necessary) is not to stop the spread, they are to slow the spread and to make sure hospitals and healthcare workers are not overrun and can operate effectively. I have a close friend who works in the COVID unit in Des Moines who talks about the toll this is taking on healthcare workers who are being traumatized by this country’s poor response to the pandemic and lack of a centralized federal response.

The issue that has come to light with the current pandemic is not that our government is trying to control us; rather, it is the American people’s dedication to rugged individualism. We are simply too self-centered to wear a piece of fabric over our faces to potentially stop the spread of a deadly virus to someone else.

Too often we look at issues across the board with the attitude “if it’s not a problem for me, it’s not a problem at all.” Hopefully someday we can start to have a more collectivist outlook and an understanding that society does better when we take care of each other.

Wear a mask to protect other people. It’s not an inconvenience. It’s not oppression. It’s not a plot to overthrow democracy. It’s the minimal requirement to show solidarity to other human beings.

Jacob Galema


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