Faith over fear

March 14, 2021

 Open letter to Alexis Kuijken, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dear Mrs. Kuijken, 

Sioux Falls lifted its a mask mandate recently, after you and your daughter complained at a council meeting that you were being harassed for not following the city’s mission to enforce CDC guidelines. Like many who refuse to wear masks you said the mandate is based on fear and you believe in faith over fear. You said going without a mask was not tempting fate like standing in the middle of a busy highway because Covid has a 99 percent survival rate (your figure).

We’ve all heard these arguments before but somehow you are missing the point. Let’s start with the busy highway. It’s a good analogy. But we are not standing on the highway watching cars buzz by. We are the cars, zooming along, rushing about our business in a miraculously orderly fashion. Most of the cars follow the rules. They observe the speed limit, stay in their lane, use safety precautions. Now you may say the rules of the road are too stringent because the survival rate on the highway is much better than the 99 percent you cite for Covid. But it is exactly because most people follow the rules that all those cars can go so fast without running into each other. We can zip across the country, merging and exiting, pausing only rarely to eat, sleep and refuel. As long as everyone follows the rules we all get to our destinations safely. 

But every highway has to have a few who ignore the rules. They think the speed limit is too slow. They think they are better drivers than the rest of us.Their time is more valuable. They weave in and out of lanes, ignoring a safe distance between cars.  Sometimes they get by just fine, impairing the smooth order only a little. But eventually the rule breakers will cause a collision. Just like those who refuse to wear masks  spread the disease that has killed more than half a million Americans this past year. 

It’s true some of the cars follow the rules of the road out of fear–the drivers are afraid they will get a ticket if they go too fast. But mostly people follow the rules of the road out of faith–.they have faith in the rules and faith in their fellow drivers. They know if everyone follows good, safe-driving mandates, everyone benefits. 

So you are right; it is about faith. I have faith in you, Mrs. Kuijken. I know you would not intentionally put others’ lives at risk. I know you wouldn’t want to be responsible for even one death per 100 because you failed to put on a simple mask.