It’s a good thing West Virginia National Guard Gen. James Hoyer was a part of Gov. Jim Justice’s coronavirus news briefing Friday.
Gov. Justice raved about the wonders of the school map color system (which has become inconsistent, complicated and farcical), then he refused to answer a question about those inconsistencies, choosing to attack the news media instead. He again seemed to emphasize testing only as it pertains to reopening schools, and (hopefully mistakenly) suggested that testing for COVID-19 and wearing masks and practicing social distancing are separate, mutually exclusive solutions to the problem.
As this sprawled out over nearly two hours, Gen. Hoyer took a few seconds to deliver the most poignant message of the day, recognizing prisoners of war and all the sacrifices soldiers have made for this country. He noted that it was the least people could do in reciprocating sacrifice by wearing a mask, staying home and practicing social distancing.
As COVID-19 has become more politicized and divisive — a crying shame that is in no small part due to failed leadership and the very top of and throughout the nation — it’s evident how incapable some are of giving something up for the greater good. Better (and easier) to believe that the virus is some sinister conspiracy or no real public health threat than to acknowledge, for a time, some can’t do whatever they want whenever they want to keep themselves and others safe. Better to decry masks as tyranny, and the idea of a lost football season as inconceivable, than to face up to the challenge of the moment.
There are Americans in uniform right now who make major, life-altering sacrifices every day for the good of the country. But some civilians who are perfectly capable won’t put on a mask or accept they can’t go to a restaurant, and have the gall to call it oppression, when they have no idea what real oppression is like.
As long as that stubbornness persists, public officials can come up with all the color-schemed maps they like, but coronavirus cases will continue to mount, as will deaths. Testing and proper public health precautions are the tools at the public’s disposal until a vaccine is developed. Those who elect not to use the tools they’re given are refusing the call of sacrifice and choosing a path of selfishness.