Opinion by Clint Parker
Weaverville – I thought I would have seen it all by now, but apparently not. It was bad enough to see people so polarized by politics. One side believing the other side is Satan incarnated. One side saying, “They want the downfall of America!” the other “They want fascism!” Not being able to simply agree to disagree and go on being neighbors and neighborly. You’d also think that if anything might unite people, it is a common foe like COVID-19, but such is not the case.
Recently, after posting the Town of Weaverville, unlike Buncombe County, would not be requiring employees and customers inside the town limits to wear masks, our social media page received a flood of comments from followers jumping on one side or the other.
“I’m so glad. Way to go Weaverville for protecting our right to choose!” said one follower. “ I have not, nor will I wear a mask! YOU wear a mask and are keeping me safe. Thank you,” said another. Yet another said, “Finally, some dang common sense is sprouting forth!!!”
On the other side, comments also came in. “You would think that people would follow suggestions offered by medical professionals and work to stop this stuff from spreading. If everyone wore masks in public in February, we wouldn’t have 97k dead in America from this virus right now.” Another commented, “No more, Weaverville has taken a stance to help the spread of the COVID-19 virus by officially encouraging people to not wear masks. Enabling them to spread their infected droplets and mouth mist to everyone else. All in the name of the Town Government’s political agenda. It’s hard to describe how irresponsible and dangerous this is. We don’t delude ourselves that we’ll be missed, but we won’t be patronizing Weaverville businesses ever again.” Finally, “ It is sad to see all the privileged walking around without masks. I do hope they stay privileged to not have personality dealt with the sorrow COVID-19 has brought. I won’t be responsible for someones else’s sorrow. I choose to be a responsible citizen by wearing a mask.”
Of course, that’s just some of the more than 100 comments that came in about the non-requirement of wearing masks by Weaverville.
One follower thought we ought to run a poll. We posted a voluntary, non-scientific poll on the page and it got more than 500 responses, which we didn’t take the time to count (you can if you like) and got much of the same there. Here’s a sample:
“I think everyone should be able to do as they please. Buncombe county officers are not enforcing the ‘mask order’… if someone doesn’t WANT to wear them they don’t HAVE to. And if a business wants to enforce it, they are allowed to refuse service. Seems fair enough to me.”
“I agree with the town of Weaverville. If you feel like you need a mask then by all means wear one. If you feel safe without one, then you shouldn’t be forced to wear them.”
“I agree with the county. Stay safe! And take all precautions in order to keep yourself and others safe.”
“OMG this thread makes my head hurt. You have to wear a seatbelt or face a consequence. You have to have a driver’s license or face a consequence. You undergo conceal carry certification or face a consequence. Y’all, this isn’t that hard.”
“Selfishness and Me Me Me, to hell with WE. Wear the mask, it not infringing on rights, this an unprecedented situation with a deadly virus and it’s taking lives 24/7.”
“Its all about ‘my body, my choice’ until it don’t benefit a certain crowd. I think its to each their own. I personally can’t stand anything covering my face.”
“Do not agree with the Town council. We should all be following the lead of Buncombe County in which Weaverville resides.”
“Requiring a mask inside a business should be that business’s decision. If the business requires a mask and the customer isn’t wearing one, that customer is free to go to another business. And if the customer doesn’t want to patronize a business that doesn’t require masks, they’re also free to go elsewhere.”
Again, this is a sample of the 500 plus comments.
The point is, whether it’s politics or how to manage a health crisis, shouldn’t we remember the things that we have in common as Americans? “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s precisely what we’re talking about with this virus and how the government and people are handling it. Some people are concerned with their health and living. Some are worried about liberty and whether we’ll have any after this is over. Still, others are worried about the ability to have a life by making money and providing for their family as they watch what they’ve worked so hard for go down the drain. Shouldn’t we all understand each other’s concerns, which is really at the heart of our Constitution?
I’ve mentioned actors Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart before. Best friends, both veterans of World War II and polar opposites in their politics. People could take a lesson from those two’s friendship.