MARTI CROW: Doing what is best for the community
I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for the Leavenworth City Commission and Lansing City Council for passing a mask ordinance. I know that the decision was politicized and criticized, but difficult decisions come with public service. I’ve been there.
As for the allegation that an order to wear a mask indoors during this pandemic is an infringement on our liberty – balderdash! This is an emergency and a matter of life and death.
There is a reason why Americans are promised life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in that order. Life comes first. It is so ironic that those who would like government to control a woman’s family planning and medical decisions also insist that the same government cannot order citizens to wear a mask to save lives. We accept speed limits, zoning restrictions and dog licensing. We comply with trash rules and yard maintenance laws. Why not a life saving mask ordinance?
If someone has a respiratory problem that makes it hard to wear a mask, I bet their doctor would rather they stay at home or at least out of close quarters. We live in a community with many military and corrections officers and their families. Uniforms are everywhere and clothing mandates abound.
Most of us were raised with rules about dress and behavior. As a small child on an Air Force base growing up, I stopped at play and placed my hand on my heart at 4 p.m. each day when taps were sounded. All the cars stopped and everyone, together, showed our respect for America and freedom. We did it not because it was required (I thought it was) but because we learned reverence for a way of life filled with duty and service to others. We did it because we were proud of American values.
The choices we make as individual citizens matter more in an emergency, especially in a world pandemic that requires patience and sacrifice. Of course, it is somewhat inconceivable that an ordinance to wear masks is necessary. All medical experts agree that universal masking in public places will save many lives. We have learned in the past 10 months that this virus is spread by airborne particles that are released by breathing and talking. We also know that it is spread more readily indoors and in close contact with others. It is extraordinarily contagious and you can be infected and contagious without the warning of symptoms. We also know that it kills. It is more likely to kill the elderly and those with underlying health problems.
What we might have hoped would be a sprint through this deadly pandemic has proven to be a very grueling long distance race. My son and my husband ran cross country in high school so I know a little bit about the sport. It takes lots of patience and control to succeed. It is likely to be messy and agonizing and fierce, especially the final push to the finish. The runners certainly must get rid of any baggage that would slow or tire them. They must pace themselves for the long haul. Most importantly, they must keep their eyes and their mind on the finish line, the roaring crowd welcoming them home.
Those who would criticize mask orders, who would insist on gathering in unsafe groups, who downplay or deny the danger of COVID-19, are piling baggage on the rest of the community, those who are running this race with courage and self control. By this time in this dark journey, we all probably know someone who’s been lost needlessly and many who have been sick. When victims are asked where they caught the virus, most cannot point to where or who infected them. I do not want it to be me.
In 2 Timothy 4: 3-4, Paul instructs the early Christians that “The time is coming, you see, when people won’t tolerate healthy teaching. Their ears will start to itch, and they will collect for themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and will go after myths instead.”
In times of hardship, two responses are common, those who shrug their shoulders and give up and those who continue to persevere, making the best use of the time. A long distance run is an individual sport but athletes run for their team as well as for themselves.
Thank you to our city leaders who strive to do what is best for our community as a whole, even when it is not an easy, uncontested decision.
Marti Crow is a Leavenworth Times columnist.