Signs in flower and garden stores tell shoppers that wearing a mask is a personal choice. Really? That foolishness is much the same as a sign reading, “Peeing in our swimming pool is a personal choice.” However you choose as an individual, you still swim in the choice made by others.
My mask does more to protect you than to keep me safe. Your mask protects me and everyone else with whom you come into contact. Your personal decision not to wear a mask puts other people at greater risk of contracting Covid-19, as those wearing masks make the personal choice to keep you safer. My mask says, “I don’t want to infect you or thereby kill someone you love.”
Lately I hear more and more comments, sometime angry outbursts, that sound like ten-year-olds on the playground trying to excuse themselves for bad behavior. “It’s a free country!” which means, “I’ll do as I please no matter what the rules for safety, and you’re not the boss of me!”
Freedom within the realm of adulthood cannot be separated from responsibility. When that connection is broken, freedom becomes another word for irresponsible self-indulgence.
What confounds logic is the heavy Christian influence here in Lancaster County, but I’m wondering more and more just what kind of Christian influence. How can I claim to be a disciple of Jesus, whom I profess to be the Christ, if I blatantly and defiantly declare that I don’t care about you or your family members, your loved ones? Who am I, “my brother’s keeper” (see Cain in Genesis 4)? If I don’t care about my neighbors whom I can see, can I really care about the Christ I have not seen (see the First Letter of John)?
So, now we no longer go to buy plants or produce from those shops. The other night, I ordered take-out from a local restaurant we had never patronized before. When I picked up the food, I saw that every employee but one was wearing a mask, and that one had his mouth open in a seemingly perpetual smile even as he worked over the food. I took the order and paid for it, but after our supper was postponed by an urgent matter, I shared my concern with my wife, and upon returning home, we dumped the food into the trash. When one person was openly peeing in the pool, we didn’t want to swim in it.