Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Wearing masks needs no debate

It’s remarkable to me how guidance to put a cloth covering on our face sparks debate, resentment or even anger. Why is something so trivial so hotly contested? Why do those who refuse to do so feel shamed by those who do? Perhaps it’s because the perceived criticism finds its mark. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” 
Those who would assert their “freedom” to not wear a mask, regardless of its impact on the larger public, have become complacent in the languor of freedoms gained by those who fought and died for them throughout the nation’s history. In World War II, when more than 400,000 Americans died and an estimated 70-85 million people perished worldwide, Americans willingly sacrificed at home so war on freedom everywhere could be won. Autos, tires, gasoline, fuel oil, coal, firewood, nylon, silk, and shoes were rationed. Everything we take for granted today was limited: meat, milk, coffee, dried fruits, jams, jellies, lard, shortening, oils. We think it’s hard to buy only two rolls of toilet paper, or one sack of flour? Wear a mask to aid in the fight? World War II-era Americans would pity us. 
We have become soft by distance from those who have since fought wars on our behalf so we do not know individually and collectively what it means to sacrifice. And make no mistake about it, medics are indeed fighting a war on our behalf right now. COVID-19 has killed more than 100,000 of our countrymen, and nearly 500,000 worldwide, although those numbers are likely underreported, especially in other parts of the world. It’s already surpassed the number of Americans killed in World War I and could threaten World War II numbers if we disregard sacrificing this tiny slice of our own freedom so others may live.
Earn the freedom that was granted to us by the sacrifices of our forebears: even if you disagree, quietly subordinate your “rights” for the sake of the greater good. Wear a mask. It’s the least we can do.
David Pistilli
Middlebury
 

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