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LETTER: Look at both sides of mask argument

"Is it truly selfish to be uncooperative if the response to coronavirus may be overdone and/or unethical?"

Emil Guzik's letter ("COVID-19 and masks," Dec. 23 Gazette) nettled me slightly. It presented a false dilemma: “Either wear a mask, or be a selfish bully.”

I should mention that I do wear a mask when I go out in public; for the sake of my grandparents and their generation, I will certainly endure such a minor discomfort. But I think that there are reasons unrelated to selfishness for refusing to wear a mask.

For example, what if the economic damage, job loss and even the number of deaths from shutdowns, restrictions, and isolation prove greater than they would have been from allowing the virus to run its natural course? I cannot solve such a complex question, but if a more knowledgeable person than myself did the math and found this to be true, they would have justification for not following regulations as a protest against lack of forethought from our lawmakers.

Another problem is the overriding of basic human rights in the interest of saving lives. Rights of assembly, association, travel and practice of religion are all currently restricted, with reason. But one could certainly argue that a new type of extremely bad cold is not sufficient justification for interfering with freedom. This would not be selfish or cruel; democracy and liberty exist today because millions of people have considered them worth dying and fighting for in the face of grave threats. Such people might decide to ignore restrictions, masks and all, as unjustified; this might be misguided but would not be selfish. Although these people would certainly become a nuisance, this would not prove them to be wrong. They could argue that in any crisis, true selfishness is the willingness of the majority to remain silent during the erosion of freedom; it is easier to be safe.

I hope this shows that there are reasons why someone might refuse to comply. Is it truly selfish to be uncooperative if the response to coronavirus may be overdone and/or unethical? Please look at both sides of the argument.

Jack Lewis van den Berg, Sturgeon County


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