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A few weeks ago my 49-year-old son was accosted and mocked for wearing a mask. He calmly explained his health problems and the necessity for the mask. No apologies were expressed by the individual. Instead, the antagonist returned to his unmasked friends, evoking a burst of laughter from the group. To them, it was a good joke. My son has been unable to work for one year and has been undergoing treatment this past year for bone marrow cancer. He is awaiting his second try at a lifesaving stem-cell transplant.

There are parallels between this incident and what was viewed at the recent Gallatin County Board of Health public hearing regarding masks where opponents, under the guise of freedom, vociferously expressed their opposition to a mandate to wear a mask in public places.

It is the mindset that in a crisis, such as this pandemic, one is free to do whatever is self-serving regardless of the effect on others. It is selfish, irresponsible and dangerous. These characteristics together with Trumpian denial of the problem, indifference on the part of the public, and rejection of science, have put us in a bad place.

One concept that this country was built on was the concept of the common good. Only by all working in concert for the common good and watching out for our neighbors will we subdue this menace. Only then will we lay fear aside so that kids can go back to school, workers go back to work, and the economies recover.

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Jim Gaffney