Throughout history, certainly as long as human beings have been clustering into groups…as families, clans, tribes, etc … we have struggled with the balance between individuals’ rights and freedoms and their obligations and responsibilities to the “community.” On one end of the spectrum were the cultures whose stronger members, in the face of approaching danger, abandoned or surrendered weaker members to the enemy, which could have been marauders, famine, disease, etc. On the other end of the spectrum were the cultures whose stronger members surrounded the more vulnerable members and defended them with their strength and resources, often risking their own lives or well-being. I consider the second example to be the more admirable and evolved group.

This current pandemic presents us with the same dilemma.

I think that those who are stubbornly refusing to cooperate with medical recommendations and governmental mandates are basically throwing those citizens who are most at risk to the wolves!

While I deeply value our national commitment to individual rights and freedoms, I recognize that our constitution, ever since it was originally drafted, has been continually altered and amended in our continuing efforts to achieve that balance. In the face of this present threat, I am so disappointed with the folks who refuse to take the simplest steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. They are in a position to defend the more vulnerable by just getting the vaccines and by making minor alterations in their own behaviors such as wearing masks, frequently washing, isolating, distancing or accepting the slight risks associated with the vaccination process. Serious side effects from the vaccine are rare, while the people who are most in need of protection face a high possibility of being infected, developing serious symptoms or even dying because of a less than perfectly functioning immune system. Even when they do everything possible to protect themselves, their efforts often fall short. Their bodies are often unable to develop antibodies at the rate young, healthy people do in response to vaccination. They may isolate as much as possible and still be exposed by thoughtless friends, relatives, caregivers, etc.

This is why it is so important for those with strong immune systems to participate in the vaccination programs. The worst offenders among those who oppose vaccination are those who swagger around in public places, maskless, flaunting their “righteous” defiance of anyone “telling them what to do” and boasting of their own strong constitutions that will protect them from serious illness. Definitely not candidates for hero of the year in my estimation.

Unless you live alone, on a mountaintop, completely independent of other people, you are not entitled to complete freedom of choice. If your freedom impacts other lives, some negotiation is called for. In this situation, mandates should not be necessary. Get vaccinated if you are able. Get tested. Wear a mask.

Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. How hard can this be?

Jo Sutt

Yucaipa

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