After a year and a half of silence, the sound of a school bus on the street was, to say the least, refreshing. Even more refreshing was the sight of young children standing on the corner to board it. The morning was not so hot, and they looked cool with their book bags and phones.
In a very different world of today, they are required to wear masks to help themselves and others. Feeling for others and helping those who are vulnerable are the very essence of going to school. Every generation learns from its teachers that everybody has an obligation to others around us. Whether we like them or not, we have to recognize their existence and act accordingly.
The spread of the latest version of the coronavirus has taught all of us that we have to think about our safety as well as others. This is a dangerous virus that becomes a killer. Therefore, we must do everything to stop it in its tracks. Using masks and getting the vaccine are the things we must do to get out of its clutches. Every day, we read news stories of death and destruction caused by this virus. Gatherings and travels by humans help spread the disease from one person to another. Dr. Fauci and other experts tell us that wearing a mask is the best way to prevent this deadly virus from spreading.
In order to attract outsiders to Frederick, the city throws outdoor parties, and people enjoy themselves in many different ways. After a long spell of staying home, going outside to do anything has been a big morale booster. However, nothing beats the occasion of being in the company of hundreds of others. All summer long, Sunday gatherings at Baker Park for music, picnics and dance were a real treat. In another way, these gatherings also were problematic because there were some present who did not have masks on.
Outdoor concerts are not immune to spreading virus-filled, microscopic spit balls 3 feet from one’s mouth. It is not like people did not know about this. They knew. Either they forgot or did not care about others. Or they thought the masked ones were not smart enough. Whatever may be the reason, they sure made many of us uncomfortable. Some friends even complained openly that “up there, that person does not have a mask.” We could not force them to wear one. Nobody should force anybody, as wearing a mask was the right thing to do. But our conversation kind of made the issue lighter. A friend of mine philosophized, “In the pursuit of happiness, one has the inalienable right to breathe in the hospital through a ventilator.” At that point, our entire group, seated reasonably distant from each other, took a deep breath under their masks.
At all levels, Americans are a fiercely independent people. They value their First Amendment. So they take the liberty to behave in whatever way that suits their needs. But there is a catch. One’s sense of independence must not harm others. The behavior of those who refuse to wear masks affects others. Then there are those who neither take the vaccine nor wear a mask. Their existence becomes problematic for everyone as they become a living deathtrap.
Even if they attend church services and believe that they are citizens of good standing, their arrogance proves otherwise. Where it comes to the caring for others, they fail. Throughout the country, their number stands in the millions. That is why so many Americans are in hospitals and in intensive care units. The virus is even contracting children like those of my neighborhood. Intransigency has its limits. In this case when someone’s life is at stake, we need to be flexible. That is American, and that is good. Dear reader, if you are vaccinated and wear a mask, you have my undiluted appreciation.
Anadi Naik writes from Frederick. His books “Song of Satan,” “Nineteenth of November,” “Blown Away” and “A Man of Humility” are available at Barnes & Noble and amazon.com.