Editorial: Are freedom and science headed for a collision?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 12, 2021

Should we be wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

Or maybe the better question is: Should we be required to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

With the rising number of cases — mostly of the Delta variant, apparently — those questions are in the forefront again. The Davie County Board of Education faced them, and made their decision.

I support their decision. You should, too.

The board decided July 29 that when school begins, masks will be optional for students. To their credit, the number of cases had just started increasing. They’re even higher now. I’m sure it is making for some uneasy feelings among those board members. Did we make the right decision? Will we have to send hundreds of students home?

I think the board acted on the second question: Should masks be required? School administration has pointed out over and over that masks work in helping to prevent the spread of a virus. But they recognized the feeling of the community that masks — or anything else, for that matter — should be a personal choice, not a mandate. We’re Americans, and we should be free to make our own decisions.

I’ll not get into all of the conspiracy theories, most of them false. We know that if you give someone their 15 seconds of fame — doctors included — they will say just about anything they think people want to hear. So there’s a doctor out there who will say whatever you want. Search the internet, and you’ll find them. After all, the internet is the best place to find unbiased news (that was a joke, for those of you who couldn’t tell).

Supporting the board of education’s decision doesn’t mean you agree. It just means that you won’t try to undermine that decision. It just means that parents and the community still have to do their parts to help keep us all safe.

And if that decision is reversed — which is possible before or after school starts — we should support that, too. It will take us all to get through this.

Board Chair Clint Junker and other members were correct when they urged the community to be kind to one another. Leave the “I told you so’s” at home. Quit questioning every decision on social media, especially when there’s no obvious right or wrong. Quit demanding that you are right. Songwriter Paul Thorn once wrote lyrics I couldn’t forget: “Be careful what you believe in, you might be wrong.”

It doesn’t mean you can’t disagree. For a Democracy to work, there has to be disagreements, and they have to be decided by the majority. But those disagreements shouldn’t interfere with the goal of schools in the first place — to educate our children.

The issue isn’t exclusive to the Davie Board of Education. Other government agencies will be facing the same questions if cases continue to increase. Businesses are facing them, as well, and some are even requiring that employees be vaccinated. If you believe in freedom, you should believe that these businesses have the right to require vaccinations for employees. If individuals have freedoms, shouldn’t businesses?

It’s all part of a bigger problem in this country. Too often, we confuse science with politics, mainly because politicians by nature try to rile people up to gain their support. It happened with global warming, and it’s happening again with the coronavirus.

Now it’s up to us to decide what’s best.

It shouldn’t be a choice to decide for freedom or science. We can believe in both. We can have both. We deserve both. Just see through all of the malarky on both sides. Then make your decision.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.