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When the Greeks invented democracy 2,500 years ago, individual rights and public responsibilities were indivisible concepts for the ruling classes. Athenians fought battles at Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea for democracy, just as Americans did in WWI and WWII to extend the great experiment in governance to liberty and justice for all.

When individual rights stood alone, as in the American Civil War, they failed, not merely because they were inhumane, but because selfish rights without responsibilities toward others in a democracy is like racing without rules on a NASCAR track. Now, modern science contributes to our most fundamental political concepts to make it crystal clear that everyone needs to wear a mask in public.

Rights and responsibilities interface on the face. Freedom has strings attached,  just like a mask does. Wearing one is a simple intermediate step in the war with COVID-19 and works well enough for the time being, with distancing and washing hands, to keep all of us safe and the economy afloat until a vaccine comes along. The great Greek leader Pericles did not have Dr. Fauci and the CDC for guidance during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Pericles died of the plague. Athens lost.

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Robert Ray Black

Bozeman