My comments in a Facebook discussion regarding actions suggested by public health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19. John, referenced below, is not a never-masker, but many of our mutual friends are. In the FB discussion, they were maintaining that it was their God-given right to not wear a mask, to not stay at home, and to not limit the size of gatherings they sponsor or attend. John commented that COVID-19 was much different than HIV because it was less deadly and that each person should be able to choose how much risk they were willing to accept. My point has been all along: It’s not how much risk each person is individually willing to accept, it’s how much their actions increase the degree of risk of others who have no say in the matter.
“Thank you, John, for helping me so clearly understand my points in this respectful discussion.
HIV didn't scare me. (Not that I'm especially scared of COVID, either, but that's mostly because of my hope in Christ.) Why didn't HIV scare me? Once we understood the mechanics of transmission, I realized that I had a significant degree of control over my level of risk. I chose to avoid risky behavior and that made me a very unlikely victim of HIV. Very unlikely, but still some small risk from the possibility of blood transfusion, etc. Life is not ever without risk, yet I believe we have the responsibility to control risk where we can practically do so.
I don't have the same degree of control over my risk with COVID. I can do all I can do, yet I can't be sure that an infected and unmasked person won't spread droplets in my vicinity, or sneeze on that food package that the 'no contact' deliveryman will leave at my doorstep later. And I don’t have the choice to not breathe or get groceries—I’m not ready to live naked in the wilderness and subsist on locusts and wild honey.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus taught us that a Christian should rise above the mere avoidance of doing evil to reach the ideal of not even thinking of evil (as in Matthew 5:27-28) AND in Matthew 25:40, he taught that we are to ensure that we do good and not harm even unto the least of our brothers and sisters. In Luke, he teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. As I read the scriptures and try to apply them to my daily walk (which I am much less than perfect in doing), I can not understand how I could knowingly fail to take steps to even *possibly* protect others--even the least of these. In this, I'm not even being asked to go so far as to cross over the road to aid and comfort the wounded. I'm just being asked to not harm or further hurt him.
The risk of death from COVID is lower than that of HIV and it appears to be lower now than earlier this year. Thank God for that. These statistics are cold comfort to the loved ones of the 240,000 COVID victims in the U.S. How many of those deaths may have been prevented by simply taking responsibility to be, at least a little bit, our brother's keepers? We will not know in this lifetime.”