Try to dial up your empathy

Further to this whole vexed topic of sensible precautions to protect self and others versus batshit-crazy opposition to sensible precautions to protect self and others on the grounds of FREEDOMFREEDOMFREEDOM – the governor of North Dakota wishes people would just stop vexing.

“This is a … senseless dividing line,” Burgum said, according to a Washington Post report, “and I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding.

“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidate they support. They might be doing it because they’ve got a five-year-old who’s been going through cancer treatments.”

They also might be doing it because other people might have children going through cancer treatments. They also might be doing it in the hope and expectation that everyone else will do it too and that fewer people will be infected as a result. They might be doing it because they’re adult, responsible, decentish people. (I say decentish because it really doesn’t take much generosity or virtue to wear a fucking mask.) They might be doing it for the same reason they don’t keep their foot on the accelerator when they see a child run out in front of their car. They might be doing it so as not to kill people, as well as to avoid being killed themselves or causing their children to be killed.

It’s one of those things you do when you live among people. Living among people has some benefits that make up for the inconvenience – like a regular food supply, clean water, electricity, communications, entertainment, education – quite a lot of benefits really. We live among people so we can’t drive our cars absolutely anywhere – into their gardens for instance, or into playgrounds, or down the sidewalk. We live among people so we can’t let our pet lions run free. We live among people so we can’t play our trumpets outside at 3 a.m. We live among people so when there’s a highly contagious pandemic raging we have to make certain changes to our everyday behavior once we leave the house. Yes that is in some sense a diminution of our precious freedom, but it’s a very god damn trivial sense in the circumstances. There’s no actual reason to refuse, and to insist on endangering other people so that your nostrils can get a sunburn. There’s no real principle at stake. It’s all just pseudo-political bullshit, and it relies on a disgustingly ruthless indifference to other people.

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