Ohio Today

Why do we have to politicize everything?

     So, it’s time to start getting serious about the raging political question of our time. 

     No, not immigration. Not abortion. Not the death penalty. Not the environment. No, the most pressing issue we all have before us – as evidenced by the constant fervor present on social media – is clear.

     With apologies to William Shakespeare, to wear a mask, or not wear a mask. That is the question.

     To get at the heart of what motivates people to make such a decision comes down to risk … or more specifically, one’s understanding of risk. A very wise friend of mine, Joe Moore of Chillicothe, once opined correctly that we do not do a good enough job of explaining risk in many aspects of American life.

     He explained it with an analogy of driving a car. Every single time we get into a vehicle, our safety is measured by the quality of the tread on our tires. Every time we drive, the tread goes down and our risk goes up. Very true.

     He noted that some people do not let the tread get down too low before changing the tires. Other people will roll them until they are like baloney rinds. Where you fall on that scale depends on how you evaluate risk.

     So, in the case of the masks, some people by nature are more comfortable with risk. Those might be the people who don’t wear them. The more conservative types might put them on. But it’s not that simple.

     That’s because this complicated issue is not just about personal risk. It’s about the increasing spread of risk to others. Even those who vigorously defend not wearing a mask would certainly have a large degree of regret if they unknowingly infected a grandmother or an elderly person in their family, which led to their death.

     However, it is unfair to see those who do not wear masks in public places as irresponsible because that is to assume they are not social distancing and taking into consideration other variables of their environment. Personally, there are times I wear a mask and times when I do not, depending on crowd size, the people I’m around, physical characterizations of the space, and so on.

     But what’s more troubling in this overblown national mask debate, is the fact that it is an overblown national mask debate. The question we all must ask ourselves now is simple … do we have to politicize every single issue in America and get into our corners like prize fighters?


     Like so many other made-up crises we see on social media, I am suspect that they are driven by foreign interests or those who can capitalize on the division. Think about it, when you see this drama unfold on social media, how much of it actually comes from people you know? And of those you do know, do you think they are legitimately outraged on this question – no matter which position they take – or are they simply falling into alignment with the talking points perpetuated by political parties, celebrity media figures or others?

      So wear a mask, or don’t wear a mask, just behave safely. The life of an elderly person in your family might just depend on it. Recognize none of us are invincible and we know – undoubtedly - that this monster is among us and it is real.

     If you don’t believe that, then perhaps a conversation with the family members of the more than 100,000 Americans who have died might be in order. You can bet it is very real to them. Or the medical staff in some metropolitan areas who needed tractor trailers to store the bodies of the victims.


     There are no easy answers in this pandemic. But as we try to navigate it as best we can, let’s not tear each other apart in the process. We don’t have to politicize every single disagreement we have in this nation, and if we truly believe that we have to get through this together, then we should start acting like it and show some respect for one another.

RICK GREENE is Editor & Publisher of Southern Ohio Today. Contact him at [email protected]