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LETTER: There is no such thing as a one-sided argument

"Unless those questions can be answered once and for all, is it right to condemn others who answer them differently than you and I, and who are upset when their opinions are ignored?"
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Doris Wrench Eisler’s letter ("There is only one side to the mask argument: wear it outside or inside – according to the guidelines," Feb. 17 Gazette) sums up everything that worries me about the COVID-19 response. She pays commendable attention to the terrible effects of the virus – but then ignores everything else, and immediately becomes indignant that a few holdouts might be concerned and frustrated over lack of attention to other matters; perhaps even frustrated enough to refuse to wear masks.

I do indeed think it possible (but extremely unlikely) that the total deaths from the coronavirus fight’s economic depression could exceed the COVID-caused deaths that would result if most restrictions were not in place. I am not referring to well-developed countries; rather, I have a nagging suspicion that some impoverished nations may be having a hard time of it; places where a person may starve if he loses his job or fails to sell his crops for a high enough price.

But besides that, how much loneliness and depression is worth inflicting to save a life? And how many people should lose their jobs in order to save a life? And how far may a person be separated from his rights in order to save a life? And is it better to have a brief disaster, and be sharply reminded of the value of life; or is a drawn-out battle better, with time to brood over the price we pay for life?

And unless those questions can be answered once and for all, is it right to condemn others who answer them differently than you and I, and who are upset when their opinions are ignored?

Two other things bothered me from Ms. Eisler’s letter. The first was her statement that I consider all but the elderly to be near-immune. I said no such thing; I merely stated that helping our seniors was my primary reason for wearing a mask.  

The second was her idea that, “The public, including religious institutions, have given overwhelming support for safety guidelines and mandates.” This sounds suspiciously like an overstatement. The individuals and institutions I am familiar with faithfully follow the government’s lead, hoping it to be for the best; but they do not actively support restrictions, and we are not slow to rejoice when rules relax and we can stretch our cramped social lives.

At many road intersections, a yield sign is nearly as effective as, and less expensive than, a stoplight.

Please be fair, even to those atrocious Nonconformists.

Sincerely,  

Jack Lewis van den Berg, Sturgeon County