It’s not about waving a flag.
Americans who object to wearing a mask, claiming it’s an infringement on their civil rights, are not patriots no matter how many flags they pin to their lapels. The Bill of Rights enumerates Americans’ protected freedoms, but nowhere does it grant a citizen the right to harm others. Wearing a mask helps prevent the wearer from infecting others.
Patriots wear masks.
The same goes for vaccines. Unlike masks, the vaccine protects the vaccinated individual from severe illness. But if someone asserts his individual freedom by refusing a vaccine, it would still be unpatriotic because it would still be harmful to others – and the economy. For the vaccine to be effective enough to return to a resemblance of the pre-pandemic normal, we need herd immunity. Herd immunity only occurs when everyone is immunized.
Patriots get vaccines.
A patriot “loves and supports his or her country . . . active fighting or resistance is not a requirement to being a patriot: a person only needs a strong sense of love for one’s country” (Merriam-Webster). Patriotism also invokes altruism, “the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.”
Patriots are altruistic.
We’ve seen a lot of altruism lately: all the frontline hospital workers at the epicenters of the outbreak; all the people facing the public in grocery stores, food pantries, soup kitchens, and so many more. In fact, anyone who has followed the CDC and state guidelines in order to reduce the risk of exposure and the risk of spreading the disease to others has been altruistic this past year. But not everyone has done so.
The Common Good.
This past year, we have suffered the bellicose haranguing of self-proclaimed patriots with a misguided sense of individualism, people who have behaved as if they are entitled to do as they please without regard to the common good. But the common good matters, especially if we want to stop the pandemic and reopen commerce and communities.
Make no mistake: Those who decline to get vaccinated are contributing to the longevity of the pandemic just as those who refuse to wear masks are prolonging the lockdown and hindering the reopening of the economy.
Be altruistic: get a vaccine.
The day will come when we can take our masks off, and that day will come sooner if everyone who can be vaccinated is. Getting vaccinated is not only safe and necessary. It’s an also and opportunity to do something for others: those in your family, your community, the nation, and the world.
And until we reach herd immunity, be a patriot, and wear a mask.
WENDY COOPER says
I don’t understand why people won’t get vaccinated. I have been vaccinated for polio (Sabin and Salk) and smallpox. No one gets these vaccines anymore—-because we all got vaccinated and the diseases were eradicated! Wearing a mask is such a simple thing to do. Patriotic ? Yes. Common courtesy? YES. It boggles my mind we even have to point these things out!
Taking over the Capitol is not being a patriot.
Micromotives like you’ve mentioned add up to macrobehavior that will benefit us all, which is what patriotism is.
Debby Detering says
I agree. And true patriots don’t need to proclaim themselves as patriots. I think of Cousin Mabel, a very special relative who, in 1896, as a college student, spoke at the Rhode Island convention for women’s suffrage and was first able to vote at age 43. I don’t remember any talk about patriotism, but I remember her daily studying the newspaper, commenting on what politicians from the local selectmen to the Secretary of State were saying or doing. I know something of the breadth of her contributions to the common good, from college scholarships to serving on the Library Board to sustainable (not the term then used) planting in city parks. No noise–just good citizenship.
Deborah, thank you for passing along this message. I wish everyone could read it!
John liccatprdi says
Thank you for your words, Deb. Wish everyone could read them.
Mary Ann Sparer says
Patriot, like so many other words used by DJT has been maligned. Truly, I never liked the word. It is like the word zealot. It seems to go too far.
My father was in the Battle of the Bulge. He served as a medic and never carried a gun. He earned a Purple Heart. One of the more devastating tasks he was asked to do was give aid to the survivors of Buchenwald. He didn’t know where to begin and felt so inadequate. My father loved all mankind not just people of his country. I think he might have been a patriot of the world.