The recent article, “Anger in Wallowa County: Protesters Reject Mandate,” has me thinking of the question, “How are we going to live together?” When I was boy of 10 our family took in an 8-year-old whose mother was hospitalized with polio. It was a new disease so we didn’t realize how transmissible it was. It didn’t take long for my lungs to become infected. I was gasping for air about 70 times a minute. I was to be put in an iron lung the next day. But the disease broke its hold. I healed completely.
Many diseases require quarantine, isolation from those around us. Mask wearing is a modest form of quarantine. Polio, like many diseases, has virtually been wiped out around the world.
How can we take positions of self-assertion and independence that put others at risk? My 76-year-old cousin went to the ER in Enterprise three weeks ago with a serious heart condition. The hospital needed to refer him. They found only one bed in this whole region — Boise, Idaho. All other beds were filled with COVID-19 patients who resisted taking the vaccine.
Is our freedom the only thing that matters? Freedom is not only for the purpose of self. It is for the purpose of building our community, of caring for one another. Some whole cultures have worn masks for decades with good results.
Someone from the article was quoted as saying vaccines and masks don’t work. That simply is not true. Vaccinated people do not need hospitalization, intubation, or other extreme measures when they are infected.
In the ancient story of Cain who killed his brother Abel he was asked, Where is your brother? He responded with, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The resounding answer was, Yes, you are your brother’s keeper. In the New Testament the stories and teachings attributed to Jesus clearly say that we are to love others as we love ourselves. Love and care is a community issue.
Wallowa is my favorite place on this earth and has been for 65 years. Even though I have been fully vaccinated I will wear a mask around others to do my part in being my brothers keeper. The people here are helpful in many way to one another. Why not protect one another from the devastation of COVID-19?