Sense of community and common sacrifice missing among many in pandemic, especially some politicians, Silas House writes

Silas House

House (Berea College photo)

In a 1,634-word article for The Atlantic, Appalachian Kentucky writer Silas House explores the resistance to masking to fight the coronavirus. He begins by recalling his grandmother’s stories of sacrifice during the Great Depression and World War II, and his parents’ help for the less fortunate, and the lessons he learned from them.

“I was taught to sacrifice my own comfort for the good of others, whether it be by volunteering my seat to elders in a crowded waiting room, letting a pregnant woman go in front of me in the grocery line, or giving half of my sandwich to a hungry classmate,” House writes. “Sacrificing for the common good was something most of us were taught when I was growing up. Just a few decades later, I’m seeing people in my hometown, and all over the country, thinking only of themselves. They’re not just unwilling to make sacrifices for others during a pandemic; they’re angry about being asked to.”

House’s object example is Gov. Andy Beshear’s mask mandate for schools, and he goes beyond his usual craft to commit journalism, interviewing upset parents and Science Hill Independent Schools Supt. Jimmy Dyehouse, who called Beshear a “liberal lunatic” in a message to parents. “He said that many studies had proved that masks were ineffective,” House reports. “He didn’t cite any sources, but at least 49 scientific studies go against his claims.”
Conversing with parents on Facebook, “Two of them said that their children broke down in tears at the news of having to go to school in a mask,” House reports. “Others say the masks hamper social life, hinder education by being a distraction, and keep students from understanding their teachers. Several told me the masks are making kids sick because they are breathing in the same carbon dioxide repeatedly, a claim that has been widely debunked.”
After noting recent statements of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Fourth District Rep. Thomas Massie, House says his grandmother “would have been disgusted by the politicization of a virus that has now killed more than 620,000 Americans. . . . Maybe too few people today understand the necessity of putting aside one’s own comforts to help others. Perhaps our sense of community has suffered in the digital age. It seems to me, however, that most of the blame should go to politicians who care more about stirring up fear to defeat their opponents than they do about people’s lives or the economy. And I blame anyone who intentionally spreads misinformation to further their own agenda.”
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