Guest Column

What if We Were United?

The debate over masks and vaccines isn’t about rights; it’s about health, common sense, science and caring for one another

By Pattiann Bennett

When the planes hit the Twin Towers 20 years ago on 9/11, like so many other horrendous events in our country’s history, people came together. This is what we’ve always done. We respond with gusto, sacrifice, and care for our neighbors. United we stood.

Now, among other things, the simple act of wearing a mask to keep spittle away from anyone close is fought against. Vaccination conspiracy theories abound. There is no unity.

No shirt, no shoes, no service. No smoking. We wear seat belts and helmets. Obey the speed limit. Even Costco has requirements. If you don’t want to get pregnant, you take precautions. These actions protect us and each other.

The debate over masks and vaccines isn’t about rights. It’s about health, common sense, science and caring for one another.

Millions of children have been vaccinated all over the world against polio, whooping cough, diphtheria, measles, chicken pox and smallpox for decades. Historically, millions of people have been saved because of vaccines.

It is proven that masks help.

The answer to keeping the pandemic under control is working together, is doing what we don’t want to do but we do it because it’s the right thing to do and because we love. What the world is dealing with is a life and death threat that can be managed by everyone’s participation. That this country has become so polarized over the obvious answers to getting us back to some kind of normal is shameful and dangerous. We could be united, even setting an example for the world.

We find ourselves at the beginning of worse than it was last year when we lost 650,000 in this country alone, many were our elders. This year, it may be the children we lose because of the new variant.

Maybe that’s what it’s going to take.

Once upon a time there was a plague of rats in a village. A Pied Piper appeared with a solution and was hired to get rid of them. He played his pipe to the rats, and they all followed him away. When it came time for the Piper to be paid the agreed price, the people would not pay, would not do the right thing.

So, the Piper played his pipe to the children of the village who all happily ran out of their houses and followed him away forever. All but one little lame boy who couldn’t keep up. By then it was too late for anyone to do the right thing. The children were gone and could never come back. 

Pattiann Bennett lives in Eureka. 

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