A Discouraging Word


Yesterday, I posted a comment on one of our Lititz, Pennsylvania, Facebook group pages. A woman had asked why the town was holding a super-spreader event this weekend. Predictably, her question ignited angry retorts from the “freedom!” (without public responsibility) crowd.

The craft show is a big event drawing tens of thousands of people in good years. The two main streets are closed as they and the Lititz Springs Park are lined with tents and booths. The event is also important for the town as it raises money for the community’s benefit. From the event Facebook page: “The money raised through renting out spaces to the crafters, subtracting expenses, is given right back to the community. The Rotary Club of Lititz donates to nonprofits such as Lititz Springs Park, Lititz Library, Warwick Community Ambulance Association and local fire companies.”

The retorts to the woman’s question included the usual laughter emojis, which I suppose are a way to “own the libs” for people who have no reasonable reply to offer. They were not the responses I found most discouraging.

I suggested that the fear that this year the craft fair could become a super-spreader event was not bogus and that, according to our current numbers, Lancaster County could be in for a very rough time with the virus. For so doing, I drew the usual disparaging retorts: a so-clever abuse of my nickname, a recommendation that I stop watching CNN, and more laughter emojis, plus a small chorus of, “Stay home if you’re afraid,” “It’s a personal choice,” and “I’ll be there with no mask!” Discouraging? Yes, but not unexpected. I should note that my rather understated comment drew more than a few positive emojis as well. So, “America’s coolest small town” does have people taking seriously the resurgence of the virus with its Delta variant that is attacking children in new and troubling numbers.

Two further retorts, however, stood out as discouraging. One woman posted, “I just want to be free and have fun!” As someone noted recently, “Freedom without responsibility is mere adolescence.” I felt my own dark thoughts troubling me as I imagined the headstone for a child’s grave inscribed (as it surely would never be) with, “My mother just wanted to be free and have fun. Well, Mom, now you’re free of me. Have fun!” What a terrible thought! But we are in the midst of a resurgent pandemic, and a pandemic kills without regard for its victim’s age or the depth of grief it causes among parents left not only with horrific loss but also with the self-blame of, “If only I had . . . .” I wish it would not happen to any parent or any person, but I fear there will be parents left blaming themselves in their grief.

The second discouraging retort came from another woman parroting a vacuous argument I had heard before: that because she could still smell odors through a mask, the mask obviously did not protect her from the virus. Upside down and backwards. Of course I can detect odors through my mask. I need to be able to breathe, and I’m wearing a cloth mask not a gas mask. I wished I could talk rationally with the woman, but Facebook is not the forum for rational conversation on a subject that has aroused anger and resentment. What might I say?

You’ve been outside on a cold day when you could see your breath.  What you’ve seen is the small cloud of respiratory moisture droplets you are exhaling, and they can carry the virus.  Your mask keeps most of your moisture from escaping to infect other people, and their masks likewise protect you from their exhaled moisture.

What discourages me in these Facebook exchanges? First, I find discouraging the adolescent (and prevalent) misunderstanding of freedom as personal liberty without public responsibility. Second, I am discouraged by the deliberate dissemination of empty, silly arguments designed to deceive the gullible who are only too happy to repeat them in foolish and dangerous defenses against unwanted personal inconveniences such as getting the shot and wearing a mask.

I find myself wondering how we will escape the ravages of this pandemic without widespread tragedy to prove the lies false and the bravado foolish. I hope that as a county, state, nation, and world we can come to our senses without first having to bury more and more of our children and other loved ones.

9 Comments on “A Discouraging Word

  1. Barbara Ackley

    Living in a tourist destination, we are seeing businesses closed because of exposure to people carrying the virus. What income earned in a mass gathering will suffer a subsequent economic loss when shut down due to illness and death of employees from increased exposure the virus. We are seeing this happen due to the increased tourist population

    1. Darby Brown Fleming

      I keep hearing the same thing from people: “if I am vaccinated why do I have to wear a mask?”, “if vaccines work why are there breakthrough infections”?, “I would rather have COVID than wear a mask or get vaccinated” and on and on ad nauseam. I take heart in believing that most people are reasonable, but that may be a delusion. I have a friend who is contemplating moving out of Florida, a home she loves in a place she loves, because she just can’t take the politics of everything finding it so appalling. But it isn’t just Florida. How sad.

  2. Vicki P Burkins

    Dick, I agree with you 100%, but you said it far better than I could have. It also makes me sad that those who should read this and be educated and, perhaps, save a life will not. How can we cross that barrier that has been erected against reading or hearing anything about Covid that does make sense.

    1. Dick Sindall Post author

      I don’t know, Vicki. I don’t know how to speak, even reasonably and respectfully, through the defenses that have been mounted against hearing any voice from outside the echo chamber of resentment stoked by misinformation.

  3. Yvonne Custis

    Everything you wrote is Truth. How can anyone be willing to trade their children’s or loved ones’ lives for their personal freedom?

  4. Debbie Homan

    It’s sad that we (Americans) cannot seem to reunite. We suffered through the divisive election, but it could not end there. We continued right into mask vs. unmasked and immunized vs. non-immunized. I pray for more people to be compassionate, responsible and respectful.

  5. Louise Smythe

    We’re working on Spiritual Activism in my small church. And I agree with all you stated. Well said, and thank you for continuing to stand up for reason – and love.

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