Fill in the blank as many ways as you can: “I owe it to my community to_________________.”
While some of us will have many ways to complete the sentence, others will balk at the suggestion they have any such obligation.
NY Times columnist David Brooks is rightly impressed with the good pandemic judgement of the vast majoring of Americans, regardless of political leaning. The exceptions are dangerous when it comes to COVID-19.
When asked by a reporter whether it wouldn’t be good modeling for the President Trump to wear a mask it public, the White House press secretary replied by saying it was his choice. Too bad the reporter didn’t respond by asking whether it is his choice to urinate in a public pool. Her reply about individual choice is meant to put a stop to the discussion. Too often, it does. It is important, though, that this not be the last word, as it would return us to the Wild West – people spewing viral bullets wherever they choose.
Surveys suggest that a huge percentage of Americans suspect that the pandemic happened for a reason, to teach the human race some kind of lesson. It is certainly an opportunity for just that. But we can’t just think of it as a lesson for other people. It looks like one of those lessons is to give more weight to the well-being of others in our decisions. This is all about moral judgment and self-control. The other lesson is how to effectively deal with those who are willfully reckless toward their neighbors. Doing nothing does not move us forward as a species.
People talk about a new normal that will follow the pandemic. Hopefully, that will include more neighborly norms for our behavior that take others’ well-being into account, not just personal choice. We each have a role to play in that, in our own choices, and in how we respond to the choices others make.