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Unmasking the truth: Patriotism vs. selfishness

Today’s a good day to exercise our imaginations. But don’t worry. It won’t be too hard to imagine this scenario:

Imagine a world in which a creeping peril originates abroad and spreads across the planet, threatening lives. Not yours, perhaps — at least not now. But eventually, it could.

Your government calls on you to do something. You’ve heard there’s at least a slight potential it might be risky. But like thousands of others, you’re the first to enlist in the cause.

It’s also necessary, you find, to change a few daily routines. This, you also willingly do out of patriotic responsibility.

Others, of course, don’t go along. They insist it’s some put-up deal, orchestrated by politicians from another party. They demand their own personal liberty take precedence and consider it unfair to expect anyone to sacrifice, even if the sacrifice is modest.

What about people who might die if they don’t act? They don’t care. Those people are different, and they probably would die anyway.

Fortunately, the scenario we’re imagining didn’t end up with cowards outnumbering heroes. Otherwise we’d be living in the United Reich of Greater Nazism instead of the United States of America.

Jogging back to reality, it’s time to recognize that our nation — our whole planet — is engaged in a great world war against coronavirus and is variants.

It’s unconscionable that fully one-third of nursing home workers in our county have refused to get vaccinated.

It’s unconscionable, even as our weekly tally of new cases has soared to triple what it was a year ago, that schools still don’t require all students to wear masks the way districts in most other states do.

It’s unconscionable that businesses and offices where customers routinely are greeted by staffers not wearing masks refuse to admit publicly when their employees come down with COVID-19.

Decades from now, will survivors patriotic enough to have enlisted in the army battling COVID look back at refuseniks the way we now regard those who called World War II “Mr. Roosevelt’s war”?

An unfair comparison? Perhaps. Jingoistic patriotism has put us in trouble perhaps as many times as it has saved us. (Anyone care to think about Afganistan?) But the downside of getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and recognizing the danger is so much less than the downside of giving up just the tiniest shred of personal liberty that coming together for common good — which is what patriotism is — ought to outweigh what can be described only as selfish objectives.

Bottom line: Don’t be a coward in the war against COVID.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Sept. 1, 2021

 

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