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During this trying time of the coronavirus, we have seen conflicts arise between individuals and groups over government mandates concerning the wearing of masks and social distancing. Some believe that such mandates violate their individual rights and should not be the function of government.

I wonder if these individuals have tried to see things from the viewpoint of those who service them in the grocery stores, doctor offices, and many other public places. I shop at a Publix store in Florida, and the cashier and person bagging my groceries both wear masks. A shield provides additional protection for the cashiers, but not for the baggers. They are exposed to countless people during the course of their shift. Even with everyone wearing a mask, the employees still have some risk of contracting coronavirus from asymptomatic carriers or negligent infected people. But the shield and masks reduce the risk. Without everyone wearing masks, they would be at much greater risk of contracting the virus.

Many of the employees are elderly, which is the group most at risk of not surviving the virus. They are there because they need to work; they need the job. I think it very reasonable for Publix, other businesses, and the county to ask all who enter their businesses and offices to wear a mask. Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, especially if the wearer is infected.

The coronavirus is not the normal flu. Health care professionals are seeing frequent cases of damage to a person’s body months after recovery from the virus. Those who think the virus is a hoax or not very dangerous should visit the ICUs in the hospitals.

I think such protests against health measures indicate a complete lack of concern for others. Everything is viewed through the lens of the ego—what I want to do regardless of how it may affect others. It is an extremely selfish position. (I am not including young children or people with health issues who cannot wear a mask.) And those who physically attack, and even threaten to shoot, someone who requests they put on a mask are seriously disturbed, and confused about what freedom means. Even if they really believe the government or a business has no right to require a mask, their violent response is way out of proportion to the perceived affront.

In 1931, a group of ordinary people who had been studying world religions approached the famous psychic Edgar Cayce to get help in understanding how the psychic related to their lives. Each had his or her own purpose, but they all “hoped to discover more meaning and purpose in their lives.” (See A Search for God Books I & II 50th Anniversary Edition published by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, p. VIII.)

Cayce began a series of readings that became lessons for the study group. Interestingly, the very first lesson was Cooperation. Other lessons covered topics such as Know Thyself, Faith, Fellowship, etc. Cooperation was considered fundamental to the progress of this early study group. And I believe cooperation is fundamental to the progress in healing this nation, whether it is overcoming the coronavirus or the hate and animosity that are so prevalent today.

It just takes me seconds to put on my mask. And at worst, wearing the mask is a slight inconvenience. I do not understand the negative response of people who refuse to cooperate based on a claim it violates their constitutional rights. I wonder how many have ever read the constitution. We are still struggling with the coronavirus in Florida because a significant number of people refuse to social distance or wear a mask. Some are attending private parties or eating in restaurants or bars that completely ignore the recommendations. Their behavior has not only cost lives; it has wreaked havoc on companies because things cannot return to normal. If everyone had cooperated initially with the recommendations, the coronavirus would be gone by now.

As I have written many times, we are all inexorably linked together, whether or not we realize it. If you harm another, you harm yourself. If you help another, you help yourself. You cannot say that another doesn’t matter without saying you don’t matter. In a deep and fundamental way, that other person is part of you.

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