County Commissioners will try again to pass a face mask ordinance this coming Tuesday, and just like the many attempts before in Vero Beach and the County, it will draw a crowd of anti-maskers to assert their “freedom” from any requirement to protect themselves and all those around them from the coronavirus.
This past week I was over on the west coast and observed most people wearing masks, except in one restaurant. In that case, none of the kitchen employees or the manager wore a mask. When asked, the manager said it was the employees’ choice whether or not to wear one.
Well sure, if you give kitchen help the option of wearing a mask as they toil in front of a hot grill, they will opt out. But this isn’t about comfortable working conditions; it is about a virus that has killed over 12,000 Floridians and 200,000 Americans.
The real problem in this country as well as here in Indian River County, is many people do not care that 200,000 of their fellow Americans have died. It is just an abstract number not relevant when their personal “freedom” is at stake.
That wasn’t the case on September 11, 2001, when almost 3,000 Americans were killed in New York City and the entire nation mourned. We were all patriotic Americans first before partisanship. We all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the attacks. We were patriotic Americans first when we stood in long lines to go through x-ray machines at the airport and then faced the added assault on our personal freedom by having to take our shoes off.
Today, we have a pandemic that has killed many times that number and suddenly our personal freedom is more important than the danger that exists for every American. Most of us know someone who contracted the virus and lived; many of us also know someone who died from it.
At this point, does it really matter if a mask “mandate” still gives most people the option of wearing one? Fortunately, most restaurants and places of business require masks, but are they brave enough to bar people from coming in without one?
The bottom line is this: why try to pass a lukewarm mandate when most people voluntarily wear masks in public. Those who do not are so inebriated with their freedom to refuse a mask that no amount of coaxing will change their minds.
In the absence of leadership from our governments, Americans provided that leadership from the bottom up, taking it upon themselves to do the right thing and protect their fellow citizens. These are the real patriots.