Respect Problem

America has a respect problem. Well, specifically Texas has a respect problem. People respect others too much. You see, there is too much respect going around right now, and I won’t contribute to it.

This week Governor Abbott announced that he’s going to be rescinding the mask mandate he has had in place since last summer. Texas ranks last in distribution of the current COVID-19 vaccines. Yes, the vaccine infections have been falling lately, but they’ve fallen before only to rise again when we’ve reduced our vigilence. And, since the announcement, social media has been flooded by people saying they’re going to respect others who both choose to wear and choose to not wear a mask when phsyical distancing is not possible. And they’ve been calling on others to choose to respect people for their choice of whether to wear a mask or not as well.

This is a problem, and it conflates what respect is. You see, respecting another person comes in two main flavors. There is respect that is given - respect that another person is human and has certain inalienable rights. This respect is due to everyone, always. But there’s another type of respect, and that is the type that is earned. This is respect because you’ve seen that someone is particularly talented, athletic, hard working, wise, compassionate, and so forth. This is the type of respect that salutes someone for the choices they make and the decisions they follow. And this is the type of respect that is being offered and coerced from others during this transition from government mask mandates to personal choice.

But the problem is, if you elect not to wear a mask when physical distance and barriers are not possible between you and other people, then you are profoundly lacking in behavior worthy of respect. You’ve shown that there is something profoundly missing in you. It might be your judgment and wisdom, it might be how well informed you are, it might be your compassion, or it might be something else. But, whatever it is, it is demonstrably lacking by your inability to make the right choice and wear a mask. My respect for the choice you make must be earned. And, if you choose to not wear the mask, then you have not earned that respect. To paraphrase Nick Fury, “I recognize that [you have] made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision I have elected to” disparage it.

So no, if you choose to stop wearing a mask because the governor has lifted his mandate, then I will not respect your choice. I won’t contribute to the problem we have with respect in America.