Georgia’s Governor Kemp has said that a mask mandate is a “bridge too far;”* but we learned from Congressman John Lewis** that crossing bridges, even in the face of violent opposition, is good trouble when it means saving lives and making a difference. Cities across Georgia need to stand up for their citizens and assert their lawful authority to supplement state-wide directives with local mandates when local circumstances require it.
Once, in America, we understood responsibility to our neighbors. Mask mandates reclaim those days when communities brought cakes and meals to families facing grief and trauma and displacement. It is not about infringing personal freedoms. Rather it is about accepting the responsibility arising from that freedom to think beyond oneself to the greater good and the good of community.
As a Marine we trained in face masks, hoods, and special suits for fighting in areas where chemical or biological weapons might be deployed. During the invasion of Iraq, Marines were on the attack for 8 hours at a time while wearing all of that gear because they knew they owed a duty to their fellow Marines not to succumb to Saddam Hussein’s threatened chemical attacks and not be able to support the mission. All in 100+º F. heat. The masks Cities are asking their citizens to wear are significantly less restrictive than the ones worn by our military. From personal knowledge I can say it is not even close.
That is why mask mandates should be made. That is why mask mandates should be followed. That is why mask mandates work. It is not about you. It is about who you come into contact with and who they in turn come into contact with. Don’t we owe it to our families And our communities to do everything we can to make sure we all survive?