This is a difficult letter for me to write on 9/11. As I listen to tributes and remembrances for those who lost their lives on 9/11, I am struck by the differences of that day 20 years ago and what we see happening today. We faced an enemy of foreign terrorists on 9/11 in contrast to the domestic terrorism of Jan. 6th and the continuing disconnect, anger, rage and hate between fellow Americans today. Is this who we are?
The disconnect has made its way to local school board meetings while we fight an invisible enemy of a virus called Covid. I read about the Non-maskers at the Oak Harbor school board meeting and witnessed via Zoom the Aug. 25th meeting of the South Whidbey school board. I saw high school students calmly and respectfully making their comments to the board while a number of adults used their time to rant and rage about masks, mandates, and banners…essentially having temper tantrums and disrupting the agenda with a clearly organized protest regarding the pledge of allegiance. Is this who we are?
Covid is not going away. The Governor’s mask mandate is legal in a public health crisis based on the 10th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. The vaccination mandate for state employees including school districts is legal per the same Amendments and a Supreme Court precedent case of the smallpox vaccine. Sending your kids to school not masked is putting them in reckless endangerment—if not child abuse given the Delta variant. Is that right? Is this who we are?
There are NO excuses for not getting vaccinated other than your doctor saying your health conditions are so grave that the vaccine would kill you. Taking a religious exemption puts you in conflict with the Great Commandment to “Love your neighbor.” If you love your kids, grandkids, neighbors you will get the vaccine otherwise you are an example of hypocrisy. The excuses boil down to ideological misinformation/ignorance OR pure selfishness, i.e. my individual rights are superior to the rights of everyone else which, in a public health crisis, they are not. Is this who we are?
When natural disasters occur we jump through all kinds of hoops to help our neighbors and fellow Americans in whatever way we can. You see heroic acts of courage, selfless acts of compassion, acts of “real love” to one another in floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados and attacks on our homeland. So why can’t we do the same for this invisible enemy of Covid? When will we wake up? Are we so entrenched in our own viewpoint that we cannot “love one another,” stand by one another in a public health crisis? How many more deaths have to populate the CDC statistics? Your spouse’s or neighbor’s death? Your grandkid’s death? Is this who we are?
This has been a difficult day of reflection. I think the high school students and children need to lead the way. They would like and deserve a future.