Our forefathers, in organizing some early settlements in our country, divided up land to accommodate not just family units but a "commons" --in the heart of the community--land contributed for schools, government and churches for the use and benefit of all. It was an acknowledgement that a community is only as strong as its commitment to the common good.
We are losing that sense of common responsibility, and it is our leaders' burden to remind us of it.
Mississippi has regrettably short resources to address the current medical and economic crisis. We sorely need leadership at every level to remind us that each individual is responsible for the good of the whole. It's not enough to say we "support" experts like Dr. Thomas Dobbs, when our government leaders appear in public without following the simple distancing and masking guidelines such experts recommend. Their actions implicitly suggest the experts' voices don't matter, at least not for people who value their personal liberty. There are certain times when our individual interests should be secondary to the interests of our community as a whole. Is it really a significant sacrifice to embrace an image suggesting vulnerability (wearing a mask)? Your compliance with simple coronavirus guidelines protects ME, since experts now know that many of us may be asymptomatic carriers who can spread the virus by failing to wear simple protection in public.
Our country has won wars and overcome past adversity because leaders stepped up to urge us to act together, not independently. Now is such a time. What if people like my father, instead of signing up in his mid-thirties to fight for us in WWII, had exerted his "personal right" to stay home? Our young people may understand this better than some leaders. One was quoted recently asking "Why would I not wear a mask in public to protect a grandmother who has to leave home?" Why not, indeed? To do that shows you honor the community and value your fellow citizens.
This is not just medically sound, but it is morally wise. It goes back to Jesus' second great commandment, "Love your neighbor." We need leaders who call on our better angels and urge us through word and deed to value our community over our own personal liberty in a common crisis like the one we share now.
It starts at the top. How will history judge us and our leaders at this critical moment? Think about it.
Ginnie Thompson Munford