Ruby

They say that adversity brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. And while I'd like to focus on those “bests,” I've become increasingly angry about the “worsts” that have surfaced.

One of these is the protesters. None of us is happy with the shut-downs and the social distancing that stifle our independence and freedom, but most of us recognize that this is a time when “life (or business) as usual” just isn't safe. Accepting that while this pandemic continues is an act of maturity.

I guess protesters have a right to say things like “Sacrifice the weak,” but who are they? Statistics for 2/1-4/25 show that 40% of America's deaths were 45-74 years old. Another 31% were over 85. That leaves 29% who were probably mostly under 45.

Statistics also show that between the ages of 50-59, the life expectancy for a person in “average health” is almost thirty years. Between 70-79, it's over ten years. “Average health” probably doesn't translate to “weak.”

In the last week of April, at a Walmart Supercenter in Worcester, Mass., 81 employees tested positive for the virus. City inspectors found that employees were not wearing face masks, although a city ordinance required them. Who knows how many shoppers were infected?

Last week a security guard at a Family Dollar store near Flint, MI, was killed when he told a shopper that face masks were required in the store. I guess that person had a strong need to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.

In Kentucky, we may think we don't need to do this. After all, we are mostly a rural state. But by April 27, rural areas in the country were outpacing urban cases. And if you look at the data, some of our worst hit counties are predominantly rural.

Beyond this, though, it just seems so shallow. Your rights have been violated because you're being asked to help protect others from getting this virus? It's a face mask, for goodness sake. You can make one in five minutes using a piece of fabric and rubber bands. Make it your newest fashion accessory. Make it as a show of respect.

Yesterday I ran several “drive through” errands. I decided I'd stop at the pet store on my way home. I got out of the car and started in, then remembered that, not needing it, I'd left my mask at home. Oh well, it's just a quick stop, probably hardly anyone inside . . .

I turned around and got back into the car. Sure enough, out comes a customer wearing a mask. I was glad I hadn't been arrogant enough to be disrespectful.

I read today that a company called MaskClub, launched last month, will offer masks with characters like Batman or Powderpuff Girls. Disney is launching several motifs, with mask sets for children and adults. Masks could become the next big summer fad.

By way of comparison, look at what happened after 9/11. Americans willingly gave up several rights in the interest of national security. For example, in 2001, the USA Patriot Act introduced “sneak and peak” search warrants that allow the government to search your home or business without you knowing it. The purpose was to ferret out terrorism, but less than 1% of these searches were used for suspected terrorist cases.

The same Act authorized the FBI to request information about Americans from banks, internet providers, and other 3rd party sources to secretly reveal personal information.

And of course, since at least 2004, we've had increasingly improved surveillance equipment at airports and many places of business. I have yet to see crowds protesting their rights against these laws.

Today, we're looking at temporary regulations, not laws; something to endure while trying to control this pandemic.

I compare these protest marches to a two-year old's temper tantrums. If you yelled loud enough, you may have gotten your way. Or a smack on the butt. Or just ignored, as the adult walked away. But sooner or later you learned that screaming didn't work.

Probably at about three you learned--and likely painfully--what ”don't touch, that's hot” meant. Only now, “wear a mask; it could save a life,” is a little more important. It may mean the life of someone you love.

So I guess I'd just say, “Get over yourself.” As a friend posted on Facebook: “Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibility isn't freedom, it's adolescence.”

Our emergency workers, our health care professionals, and many others are serving our communities at great risk and sacrifice to their own well-being. And all that's asked of us is to wear a mask.

How hard is that?

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