“There is nothing in the world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many of us grew up driving and riding in cars with no seat belts. But as cars got faster and more powerful, roads improved, and the number of people driving and miles driven continued to climb, the number of highway deaths became unacceptable.
In 1968, the installation of seat belts in all passenger vehicles became law. Today, 34 states have primary enforcement seat belt laws for at least the front seat driver and passengers.
According to the CDC, seat belts reduce the risk of death for drivers and front-seat passengers by 45%. In 2009 alone, 13,000 lives were saved by seat belts.
While many people complained about the assault to their “personal freedom” that mandatory seat belt laws created, sets belts have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. It took 50 years, but today, more than 90% of drivers wear seatbelts. Much of that happened as younger drivers were brought up with the discipline of wearing a seat belt.
Today, we find ourselves in a similar, but more dire situation, partly due to actions taken by the Administration.
In 2018, the White House eliminated the Pandemic Office of the National Security Council Directorate. Beth Cameron, first director of the unit, stated, “This office was set up to be a smoke alarm and warn of a fire.” But that fire is now raging out of control in our nation. In addition, $1 billion was cut from the Center for Disease Control, with additional decreases in 2019, 2020, and requested for 2021. We have entered into this current pandemic with our ability to respond crippled by our government.
The COVID-19 virus is faster, more powerful, and more deadly than any virus we have seen in our lifetime. The common flu kills about 2 people per 100,000 in population1; as of July 2020, according to the CDC, COVID-19 mortality is 113 per hundred thousand people2. As in 1968, we are facing an unacceptable loss of life – and we have a way to reduce that by 45%. But many people feel that this solution is an assault to their “personal freedom.’
Across our nation, medical professionals, public health organizations, and government authorities are encouraging the use of face masks as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC has even said that we could bring the spread of the virus under control in 4-8 weeks if everyone who can, would wear a mask. If you need further proof, consider this news story from a few weeks ago: Two Missouri hair stylists who were showing minor symptoms cut the hair of 139 clients. The stylists wore masks, as did their clients. When they were tested, the stylists were horrified to find out that they were positive … but there has not been one case as a result of that exposure.
Unfortunately, a certain portion of the population – and of the government – have made this into a political issue, with public protest, retaliatory actions, and criticism in the press for those who wear or encourage the wearing of masks.
In Texas, Florida, and Arizona and other states, cases have spiked to as high as 75,000 in one day. The U.S. has lost more than 144,000 citizens, with nearly 4 million more infected. If we could find a way to reduce that infection number by nearly half, a little inconvenience or a lot of political propaganda should not stand in the way.
As citizens, we are called upon to respect the rights of our neighbors – including their right to stay healthy during a pandemic. As Christians, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, which may mean the occasional sacrifice – even a small one like wearing a mask – to benefit those around us.
Crippled by a lack of national leadership, we are facing an unacceptable loss of life. We have a way to slow it down, but we don’t have 50 years to wait. For the good of our country and our neighbors, in accordance with our democracy and our faith, it’s time for EVERYONE, from the White House to the house next door, to put politics aside and do what’s right. WEAR A MASK!