I am going out on a limb here to say that I do not believe that killing other people, or even seriously endangering them, is a protected liberty. I’m not really sure how I lived this long not even knowing it was up for debate, but here we are.

Let’s back up a minute. We are all in quarantine, yes? Or most of us non-essentials anyway.

There is a heretofore unknown virus rampaging its way across the globe that we have no vaccine or treatment for. People are spreading it without even knowing they are infected. People are dying. Large amounts of people. Death by this virus is dreadful. It is neither quick nor painless and it leaves behind millions of grieving friends and family members.

Additionally, millions have been put out of work in an effort to contain this virus. People who cannot afford to be without an income. Businesses are closed and costing their owners everything they have worked for. The system is overwhelmed and on the verge of collapse.

This quarantine of non-essential workers is unsustainable. Killing hundreds of thousands of people is unconscionable. We have to decide how to manage both to the best of our abilities, preserving as many lives as possible, while allowing as many people to work as possible, in a situation we have never been in before, leaving us unsure of the best path forward, but more than willing to try and do whatever we can, together, as the UNITED States of America.

Or so I thought.

It turns out that one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of this virus is something so very simple, so very easy, and so very controversial.

Wear a mask. When you are out in public, cover your face, western bandito style if you like. Just cover it. So you don’t spread the germs you might not even know you have to someone unable to fight them off. Someone who could die from this virus.

Why is this so controversial? I have no idea. Is it because wearing a mask protects others from your germs and you just don’t give a crap about other people? I would hate to believe that about people, but I have been listening to the ranting and raving about it for days and I am absolutely shocked that people think that running around, possibly infecting and killing other people, is somehow a display of patriotism.

I want people to be able to go back to work. Who doesn’t? I’m pretty sure there are people out there who don’t miss restaurants and movie theaters, but I am not one of them! So when the medical professionals said that “Models show that if 80 percent of people wear masks that are 60 percent effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R0 (rate of spread) of less than one. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease.” I was more than happy to order a mask and wear one.

But there are many people who are not happy about this idea and are unwilling to wear a mask. One of the major things that allows us to stop the spread of this virus (along with distancing when possible and handwashing)  and get back to a semblance of normal work, normal paychecks and normal life, is somehow an infringement their personal liberty.

But is it?

Is stopping at a red light against my personal liberties? Or obeying the speed limit? Because I could get places a lot faster and easier if I didn’t do either of those things and completely disregarded the safety of everyone else on the road.

Or how about not smoking in a restaurant? I mean, if I want to smoke in a diner should I be able to? Even if it negatively affects your health? Why is that my problem?

How about drunk driving? I could harm myself, but that’s my choice and clearly I do not need to bother with being concerned about harming you, right?

No. That’s not who we are. Sorry. If you think that, you have the wrong people. The wrong country. Yes, we are free and we defend our liberties. But we are also the same people who came together after 9/11 in a show of solidarity that displayed to the world that we are one people. Unbent and unbroken. We are America and we are Americans. Together. And to be mildly inconvenienced, temporarily, in order to let people get back to work, back to their businesses and not kill them or their families in the process, is something we should be able to do without giving it a moment’s thought. We should be showing the world that we are the UNITED States of America and we will not be crippled or stopped by a virus. Instead, we are squabbling like little children about who we can let die so that we don’t have to cover our mouth and nose when we leave the house. It is a pathetic display of selfishness that I am stunned by every time I go out.

So to the worker out there who desperately needs a paycheck, but also has a child at home fighting cancer…I care enough about your baby to wear a mask.

To the nurses and Dr.’s fighting desperately to save every person they can from this virus…I care enough to not send you any more patients by wearing a mask.

To the elderly man at the grocery store who is afraid to be out because he and his wife are so vulnerable…I care enough about your life to wear a mask.

And to the 50-year-old guy, smirking as he parades around, violating social distancing requests and not wearing a mask…I also care enough about you and your loved ones, their health and well-being,  to wear a mask. It would be nice if you could return that respect and consideration before you kill someone I love.



Melissa Coble is a mom living in Phoenix, Arizona just trying to survive the teenage years with a lot of laughs, an occasional rant, and copious amounts of wine. You can find her counting the days until her nest is empty on her blog An Unfit Parent and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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