To the Editor: Culture of shared safety 

To the Editor: 

A natural response to events such as 9/11, the Sandy Hook shooting and the coronavirus is fear. These events shook our worlds. In an effort to make sense of them, we may latch on to narratives that don’t serve us – that lead people to stockpile weapons or toilet paper and pursue conspiracy theories or turn to the book of Revelation. Last week’s viewpoint, “Think twice about shaming your neighbor,” by Blake Rosso, was infused with fear. You could tell from the opening statement that referenced Nazi Germany and Romanov Russia. While we have much to learn from history, comparing snitches and whistleblowers who act in the interest of public health to those who acted for personal gain or to avoid punishment during genocides is an overstatement.  

Rosso stated that we are “being conditioned to report our friends and neighbors for not wearing masks.” I argue that it’s our duty and responsibility during this unprecedented time to protect our community while it’s our right to know when others aren’t taking the safety measures seriously when the consequences are deadly. We need to create a culture of respect for health mandates for the sake of our community. Rosso wrote, “if you really believe in the science behind mask wearing…get out and educate.”  Yes, we must educate, but not because of our “beliefs. Science is real, whether we believe in it or not. The coronavirus doesn’t care about our fear of vaccines or our “beliefs” on CDC guidelines. It continues to spread through our communities and kill our loved ones.  

“Denunciation is a form of control, Rosso stated. And yet we must control this virus for life to return to normal. Science has shown that the best way to do that is to wear a mask, and that vaccines work in stopping the spread of deadly communicable diseases. I agree that shaming is less effective than addressing people with kindness, concern and curiosity. We must find a way to create a culture of shared safety and concern for each other. Yes, we need to educate each other, and there is sometimes a fine line between shaming and educating, but we must control this virus with every tool at our disposal — whether by a vaccine or by compliance to mask mandates that are simply made in the interest of public health. In an immediate way, we owe it to our teachers, hospital workers, essential workers and our at-risk friends and family. Looking ahead, we owe it to our performing artists who are still out of work and to our children who are out of school. Finally, we owe it to ourselves to recognize our fears and work together to put our lives back on track. 

Christina Spurling 


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