Rights without obligations set the stage for anarchy. Obligations without rights set the stage for tyranny.
The older I get, the more I wonder about the world, humanity and whether we are making progress or simply marching off a cliff while chanting about our rights, about our individual uniqueness and about being offended.
What do we have in common if we are all so goddamn unique? What value do we place on our neighbors and upon all the other people who inhabit our planet? What is the basis for our morality?
Last week, I criticized Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant and the city council for dreaming up the idea that we need to create a “diversity” committee in the city. Despite my criticisms, they went right ahead and approved the idea to create the committee. Good for them. I still, however, think that it’s a lot of sound and fury about nothing other than political pandering.
But this week, I find myself applauding Casavant and his decision to issue a proclamation that asks residents and visitors to wear a mask when visiting local businesses and public buildings.
It is NOT a mask mandate such as those issued by the mayors and city councils of other Maine communities, including Portland, South Portland and Brunswick.
Casavant’s proclamation also urges all community members to be “patient and understanding of the challenges that are posed by the pandemic.” Casavant then did something really stupid. He posted his proclamation on the city’s Facebook page.
The knee-jerk reaction was swift and unforgiving. While most people indicated that they supported the mayor’s proclamation, there were plenty of other comments criticizing the decision. One commenter wrote “and the hits keep coming from the Democrats” while others said the pandemic is nothing more than a hoax orchestrated by the pharmaceutical industry and Joe Biden’s dog, Major.
If you think wearing a mask while in public places is government tyranny then maybe you should go back to your bunkers, stock up on Hot Pockets and order more ammo from Amazon.
Behold, I send you out as a sheep among the wolves
Last year, one of my Facebook friends called me a “sheep” because I thought getting vaccinated and wearing a mask made a lot of sense during a global pandemic.
My doctor, a board-certified internist, said my decision made good sense. And that’s saying something because that bastard is always on my ass about something: smoking, not exercising, poor diet, excessive sleep, recreational drugs and being overweight.
Last week, an American Airlines plane traveling from Miami to London had to turn back because a passenger in first class refused to wear a face mask. The flight was cancelled and the other passengers had to re-book their flights. 128 people had to go through an unnecessary bout of extreme aggravation because one person refused to wear a mask.
If I had been one of those other passengers, I would have used my face mask to strangle the man or woman who refused to comply with the airline’s requirement about face masks.
For those of you who say that your “rights” are being violated because you’re being asked to wear a mask in public places, let me make something perfectly clear: you don’t have the right to fly on American Airlines. You don’t have the right to shop at Walmart or any other retail store. These are private businesses. They get to set their own rules.
Furthermore, you cannot send your kid to school without a shirt or shoes even on a really hot day. You do have Constitutional rights but you also have a moral obligation to be a decent human being, to be considerate of others . . . to care about the world outside your own front door.
I have not been to church in a very long time, but I consider myself to be a Christian man. From what I have read and been taught, Jesus extolled the virtues of kindness, generosity and forgiveness. He asked us to consider the needs of our fellow man.
Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? I honestly don’t know.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for all of us to step back and consider not only our rights, but also our obligations. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Originally published in Saco Bay News