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Reply To: The Air We Breathe

Richard Sumpter

    Mary Ann,

    Your commentary on masks is relevant to my personal journal entry today.  I post it here.

    I have seen in the news several commentaries on how the pandemic has been politicized.  The most visible sign of this has become wearing or not wearing a mask.  TV news outlets have aired numerous accounts of people who refuse to wear a mask.  I have heard them say things like, “This is America.  They can’t make me wear a mask,” or “It’s a free country.  Wear one if you want but don’t force it on me.”  People who do wear masks have tried to reason with or respond to non-wearers with a fairly consistent message: “It’s not just about you.  Not observing the rules can endanger others.”  Those who refuse to follow the rules are often self-identified Trump followers, and/or conservatives.  The others are largely liberals.

    Over a year ago I wrote a lengthy essay trying to determine the major principles that differentiated liberals from conservatives.

    Essentially, I concluded that the fundamental difference is that conservatives privileged individual freedom over the common good, a case of self vs other.  Liberals privileged the community over the individual and made the common good the higher priority.  (I also had a briefer entry in this journal on 6-24-20.)  The mask wearing issue is a clear illustration of my contention.  It is further born out by the rules promulgated by Republican governors compared to those mandated by Democratic governors.

    Later today, pundits in the TV news described the unwillingness to require masks as an example of how Trump followers deny science.  I think they are actually denying that they have any responsibility toward the common good when it impinges on their own personal freedom; and denying the science behind the pandemic is a necessary step to permit them to privilege individual freedom over communal good.