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December 3, 20215min00

Insulting Our Intelligence


USA – We will soon have our first bitter cold temperatures of the winter.  We don’t know exactly when it will come, but one thing is certain:  news media will come out with guidelines on how to protect ourselves from being cold.  Bundle up, cover your face and hands and ears, dress in layers, avoid alcohol, and don’t be outdoors for extended periods.  We will see this advice online, in newspapers, and on television.

And next summer, when we have an extended period of high temperatures, we will get warnings about heat exhaustion and heat stroke, along with advice about how to keep cool.

We don’t really need this advice.  Humans have managed extreme temperatures for all of history, and we know when we are at risk, and how to take care of ourselves.  We are intelligent and resourceful and know our own bodies, our own limitations, and the steps necessary to be safe.

After 20 months of the devastating impact of SARS-CoV-2, we know what protective measures work: washing hands frequently, wearing masks in some situations, and avoiding close contact with others, particularly if you are symptomatic or have health issues that increase your risk.

We know what doesn’t work and, in fact, led to more problems than the virus itself.  Shutting down a thriving economy led to massive unemployment, and an infusion of borrowed government funding.  Shutting down schools led to setbacks in learning, unequal access to classes, and disruptions to life at home.  Mask mandates have put front-line employees in the untenable position of enforcing rules on a public that is skeptical of them, as well as ridiculous rules by private businesses, including some airlines requiring that masks be in place “between bites and sips” when eating or drinking.

During 2020, the Trump administration initiated a massive, unprecedented effort to develop vaccines to combat this virus, and as the year ended, the project succeeded and the vaccines were ready.  Since then a huge portion of the U.S. population has been vaccinated fully and many have been “boosted”.  The vaccines are available to virtually the entire population.

Some people do not want to be vaccinated, for a variety of valid reasons.  These people are not irresponsible or thoughtless.  Some feel the vaccine development and testing were rushed and need further validation.  Some, who have recovered from COVID-19, believe that they have protection from actually surviving the virus.  Others have allergies or other medical reasons for avoiding vaccines.  And there are a few who just don’t like vaccines, period.

All of that is okay.  They have the right to make these choices, just as they have the right to go outside without a coat and hat in freezing temperatures.  We should leave them alone.  No shaming, no condemnation.  No mandates.

The majority has made the choice to get vaccinated.  We should leave them alone, too.  They have a right to do what they think best to protect themselves.  We are divided enough in this country.  We don’t need to devolve into the vaccinated versus the un-vaccinated.

The same approach applies to masking.  If you feel safer wearing a mask, wear one.  If you want to enter a doctor’s office or hospital, you should wear one.  If you want to patronize a business that requires masks, either wear one or choose another business.  And if you don’t feel safe around people who are unmasked, go somewhere else.  Your choice.  The rest of us should not castigate you for your choice.

We do not need to be treated as ignorant with regard to this virus, any more than we should be with regard to extreme temperatures.  Do not insult our intelligence.  We will do what we think is best, and leave everyone else alone. We’ll all get through this, sooner or later, and with civility and respect for one another.

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