Spirit Versus Letter – Religion and Politics

There are a number of events in any person’s life, that are pivotal in their overall understanding.

For me, at least a couple of them occurred when I was a member of the United States Air Force, many years ago. Back when I was in the military, at least the folks with whom I dealt regularly, were concerned about “base” things.

That’s not to say they didn’t concern themselves with things that appear more superfluous, extended or unimportant. Rather, they felt that if a person had an understanding of fundamental tenets of life, even those things would “sort themselves out to the good.”

An example of this, involves how people respond to being told they need to do a particular thing. Some folks are inclined to follow or not follow the “letter” of what they hear or read; others are interested in the spirit of the same things.

By this, I mean to say that a lot of people tend to do whatever they believe a given law, rule, regulation or other “edict” can be made to say needs done, as opposed to examining the intent in which the requirement was penned or spoken. And that’s assuming they heed what was asked at all.

Then there are those who want to understand the “whys and wherefores,” so that, if they choose to follow a given expectation, they do so knowing what was intended by the one or ones putting it in place.

In either case, it’s possible the answer to, “Will you assent to this?” is a solid, “No.”

Understanding that the refusal to agree may result in consequences, we make our choice.

So for example, when the local government (read here, “state, city or municipal leadership”) set in place a regulation that indicated that all persons in public places were required to wear face masks, I had long since decided that I would refuse to do so for a number of reasons, letting, as it were, the chips fall where they may. 

To begin with, considering the astronomical number of people directly and intentionally flouting speed limits, and the extremely limited number of law enforcement officers, as well as the generally negative perspective where they’re concerned, I pretty much concluded there was no way they would be involved in enforcement of such a farsical rule.

More importantly though, I had long since concluded, the thing the government types were trying to accomplish through their activities would not be managed that way. Even if I believe the thing required would result in what was desired, I was well aware that the majority of folks are not remotely interested in spirit of intent, but are instead driven by “the letter of the law.”

This was demonstrated perfectly by a recent visit to a local department store. I walked in the door (without a mask), and was greeted by zero “enforcers.” I was glad this was the case, as I say, I had no intent to wear a mask.

The point though is, if you think people are going to voluntarily adopt something like mask wear, you’re sadly mistaken.

What was far more telling though, was looking at people who were supposedly wearing masks.

Starting with the customers to the store. A good many of them were either wearing the masks they had on improperly, or wearing masks that were (as is expected) wholly inadequate to the task. In other words, they may as well have not been wearing them at all, since many of them were substandard, and most of the remainder were improperly donned, so as to make the “free flow of output both likely and transmittable.”

I was neither surprised by this, nor particularly bothered. To begin with, pretty much nobody coughed or sneezed—in fact, I saw nobody breathing hard, or looking ill either (yes, I do realize that “COVID-19 can be spread by asymptomatic carriers.” Thanks).

As much as I can be, I’m a rather private person, the result is, I was doing everything in my power to maintain a distance of far greater than six feet from anyone but my son in any case. When someone got close, I moved (as is my wont). When I had to pass people, I did it quickly, generally looking away from them and where possible, minimizing my breathing. If I had the choice, I didn’t “cross paths with” anybody to begin with. If someone was in an aisle, I didn’t enter unless they were at the other end, and appeared to get getting ready to leave. Sometimes, I found myself on one end of a row, quickly grabbing the one thing I needed, then leaving as quickly as possible when done.

The point here is, you might consider me, “an expert at social distancing,” since I’ve done it most of my life. This is one of the reasons I don’t care for masks—I think social distancing does a much better job. Put another way, “Stay away from others, silly!”

Now let’s take a second and look at employees of the entity in question. First, I should say the store is a “chain.” I’m pretty sure they have a training program for how employees should act in various situations. That said, it’s very obvious those working there regularly discount what they’re told (can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a stocker or other worker block my path or act rude in some other fashion).

Out of maybe ten to fifteen employees, maybe one or two was wearing whatever mask they had in a prescribed fashion. Of those who were, at least one was wearing a mask that almost certainly was not fit for their job.

So even if we ignore the fitness or lack of reasonability of the masks being worn, most of the employees were wearing masks improperly.

Do I find the actions of either the mask-wearing-customers or the workers in the store to be surprising? Considering I know most people to be “letter folks,” not “spirit individuals,” the answer is a resounding, “No!” Was anybody, “Policing either workers or patrons?” Not in any visible fashion.

What do I conclude? The mask ordinance is a near total failure. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. More Importantly? Most folks care only about the letter of the law, not the spirit of it as such, a rule like that cannot help but fail.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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