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Protect human rights, wear a mask

Decades ago, I was a passenger in a car that was struck broadside by another vehicle. The impact hurled me through the windshield. Although I was not seriously hurt, for several weeks afterward every time I brushed my hair, bits of glass that had embedded themselves in my scalp would be dislodged.

I hurtled through the windshield because I was not wearing a seat belt. Our car was broadsided because the driver ignored a yield sign and sped into the path of an oncoming vehicle. It was all our fault. We broke the law and suffered the consequences.

News reports of traffic accidents generally cite violations of some law — speeding, intoxication, crossing center lines, etc., as the cause. Only rarely do they attribute the event to vehicle failure.

Responsible citizens obey traffic-safety laws because they recognize that these laws are designed to protect everyone on the road. Do they infringe on our “freedom” to drive too fast, to drive while inebriated, to ignore stop signs, etc.? Of course they do.

Similarly, responsible citizens do not trespass, dump litter, steal or otherwise break the law because they know that the laws are designed to protect them from those who would trespass, litter or steal on their property. Arguably, these laws also infringe on the “freedom” of others to go anywhere they wish, to dump trash in their neighbors’ yards, or to help themselves to others’ property.

What, then, is the big fuss about wearing masks? I do not wear one because I enjoy having a new fashion accessory or because I am a coward. I do it because I respect the mandate designed to protect myself and others.

Ms. Eisenbach (Forum, Sept. 16) and others might just ponder the possibility that Kaua‘i’s low rate of COVID-19 infections results from the willingness of its citizens to obey the protocols enacted by our mayor and health officials for the purpose of protecting us all. As Mayor Kawakami has said, this is about aloha. Expressing aloha can infringe on the “freedom” to ignore others’ feelings or even their human rights, but it does give us the freedom to live together in reasonable harmony.


Heu‘ionalani Wyeth is resident of Anahola.
Source: The Garden Island

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