Your Freedom Ends Where My Nose Begins
Urgent Need for National Wear a Mask Campaign
I suspect you experience similar memories from your high school days. I took Mrs. Lynch’s philosophy class in my junior year. Our class debated the phrase “your freedom ends where my nose begins.” Again, in college, I took an Introduction to Law course. We examined the works by Oliver Wendell Holmes and John B. Finch who used variations of this debate of personal freedom at defining moments in American history. Today this debate is the national resistance to enact a mandatory face coverings policy that challenges us to appreciate the balance of personal freedom against the greater public good.
Twentieth-Century Public Health Campaigns
Twentieth Century campaigns brought reforms like stop smoking, drunk driving, and teenage drug use. Today, few of us question why we have smoke free indoor spaces. Rideshare, designated drivers, and checkpoints have slowed the rate of drunk driving and concomitant fatalities. In fact, First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign changed our collective thinking on teenagers and drugs. All of these examples prove how impactful strong social policy and leadership are at reducing social costs. Think back on any one of these issues to hear the opposition’s voices. The push back sounded something like “it’s my right to do as I please.” Or “I’m only hurting myself so leave me be.”
Twenty-First Century Pandemic Reignited The Freedom Debate
I suspect that Mrs. Lynch’s teachings are resonating with me now that my nose is front and center when it comes to the pandemic. The United States is succumbing to the virus where other countries are not. Facts are facts. No fake news or political spin can drown out the failure we Americans are witnessing across the country. Ironically, today’s social media networks would enable us to quickly ramp up campaigns to unite our national will to saving lives lost by COVID if we chose to do so. However, this will not happen without our leaders embracing science as our north star.
Social Responsibility Trumps Personal Choice
The limits to personal freedom carry particular weight in the arguments about wearing masks and the protection of our country in the COVID crisis. Let us get real about our situation. Wishing or turning a blind eye to reality is not making this pandemic disappear. We urgently need a national campaign for wearing masks. I suggest reframing the discussion to appeal to the personal vanity of non-compliant Americans. Social media campaigns advance our crusade to cover up with slogans this these:
- Guys, are you tired of shaving? Forget the razor, cover it with a mask
- Tired of looking at those extra chins? Wear a mask, poof, instant facelift
- Missing your lip fillers and wrinkle treatments? No worries, wear a mask
- Embarrassed by yellowing teeth? Wear a mask and smile with confidence
If Not Now, When? If Not You, Who?
I am adding my voice to the masked chorus of leaders who demand that we unite under a national policy to wear face coverings regardless of any real or perceived susceptibility to COVID-19. We are experiencing a horrendous rise in suffering and death. Do we believe that our country is worth the sacrifice? I say Hell Yes!