Freedom is Good, but Responsibility is Sometimes Better

Wear a mask for the sick kids, for the elderly, for the health care workers

By Ben Long

For the second time in a year, my family spent time in the pediatric wing of the Kalispell Regional Medical Center for my son’s chronic neurological condition. What a difference a pandemic makes.

You could not miss the poignant moments. Sick kids talking to their grandparents through the thick glass windows – kids inside and grandparents outside. Members of the Montana National Guard scrubbing the interior. The weary faces of the doctors who said so much of this pandemic could have been avoided.

The adult wing was crammed with COVID-19 cases. As we awaited admission in the Emergency Department, we saw one woman who had tested positive, hunched and suffering in her waiting room chair. Another man, in a wheelchair, rebuked a triage nurse who politely asked him to put on a mask.

“I don’t want to and you can’t make me!” he said, a perfect mimic of a 3-year-old.

I get it. Freedom is freedom. The masks and other measures are a pain in the neck (and the ears). I miss my friends and family too. The economic insecurity and pain is real.

Americans are free to be irresponsible. But we are also free to be responsible – to wear masks, wash our hands, keep our distance and avoid groups of people during a once-per-century pandemic. Do it for the sick kids, for the elderly, for the health care workers, for the cops and first responders and National Guard members. Who knows, maybe for yourself.

Take it from me. The hospital is a good place to stay out right now. Freedom is good. But responsibility sometimes is better.

Ben Long
Kalispell

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