Your right to throw a punch ends at the tip of my nose.
There’s an American saying. “Your right to throw a punch ends at the tip of my nose.”
In other words, in a Democracy, we BOTH have freedoms, and also the responsibility not to infringe on the freedom of others.
That should be all that’s necessary to say on the subject, but just as people continue to throw punches regardless of consequences, there are those who are saying it is their right to go out in public without masks during a world-wide epidemic.
Indoors, wear a mask.
Fine. Use your “freedom” to not wear a mask. But only as long as you are not in a closed environment with me, who will be wearing a mask. And I don't mean within six feet of me indoors. I mean don’t be indoors with me and others who are wearing masks, without your mask.
Air inside buildings recirculates. Especially when the building is centrally air conditioned or heated. In Texas, and much of the south, it’s too hot to leave doors open and air conditioning is a necessity. In the north of the U.S., freezing temperatures require being indoors and using heaters.
Outside, I will meet you halfway.
Actually, I won’t, if halfway is less than six feet. But at least outdoors, air isn’t confined. Viruses can blow away, if you aren’t too close to the person shedding them.
Your right to go without a mask means you forfeit the right to be indoors with people who are wearing theirs. Or within six feet of them outdoors in public.
Why? Because I have the right not to risk death.
I also, like you, have the right to go buy groceries, fill up my car occasionally, get take-out food, and go to the pharmacy. You do not have the right to make me vulnerable to the virus while we’re both doing so.
I also, like you, have the right to take walks in my neighborhood, and hike on recently opened trails. I’ll even stretch and say we both have the right to do so without masks. But ONLY if we stay over six feet apart. And we aren’t yelling at each other from that distance, which spreads the virus in droplets and aerosols in the air. Nodding, waving, and a quiet hello will do just fine.
Speaking of opened hiking trails, there are some that are so narrow, with drop offs, that you can’t distance from others. Can we all agree to stay off of those for now? Especially if you drive there, and a hundred cars are already parked.
I’ve seen that. A hundred cars parked next to a trail that is less than six feet wide. And I’m willing to bet the hikers weren’t all wearing masks. So maybe, if you’re going to walk or hike in more populated areas, wear your mask. If you don’t want to wear one, go somewhere less crowded. Going somewhere less crowded doesn’t impede your right to walk or hike, nor your perceived right to not wear a mask.
Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence stated, “All men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation oflife, and liberty , and the pursuit of happiness.”
I wanted to write this humorously, since lessons taught with humor are more memorable. However, I simply can’t find the humor in exposing others when there is no way to know if you have the virus or not.
In a perfect world, we could all have been tested, and we would know if we could be around other people while not wearing a mask without endangering their lives. But, as we know, we don’t live in a perfect world, which has been made especially clear by our lack of preparedness for a pandemic.
Until everyone can be vaccinated, let’s agree that your right to breathe your, possibly infected, breath toward me ends where my masked nose and mouth begins. Remember, the first line of the United States Declaration of Independence guarantees us all and each the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Preservation of life comes first.