What is normal? Is normal even possible in these times?

"Normal," our mother used to say, "is nothing more than a setting on the dryer." Others say it is an illusion: "What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly."

We hear a lot of talk nowadays about “the new normal” or whether our lives will ever “return to normal.” Maybe it is time for all of us to wake up. There is no “normal.” Not now, and certainly not in the near future.

Instead of worrying about better ways to protect ourselves and those living around us from an unrelenting virus that that has killed more than 600,000 people worldwide while infecting more than 14 million, too many bitch that high school football is gone for the fall or a favorites store might bar the door if we don’t wear a mask that has been mandated by the Commonwealth for weeks.

“You can’t force me to wear a mask because it violates my freedom,” a man in Floyd told me this week. His lack of reason reminds me of an old adage that says “your freedom ends at the precise second your fist connects with my chin.”

“You always hear Americans say, ‘I know my rights,’ but you never hear an American say, ‘I know my responsibilities and obligations,’” Stanford University public-opinion specialist Morris Fiorina told The Washington Post in a recent interview.

A mask could very well spell the difference between a haze of COVID-19 germs keeping from infecting others around you and perhaps even you. Those who argue against the “alleged safety” of masks are most often ones without medical degrees or training in health issues.

I suffer from COPD, a serious respiratory disorder. My wife has asthma. Yet we both wear masks when we venture outside the house. Why? It is the sensible thing to do. We wash our hands dozens of times a day and strive not to touch our face. At our age, with our underlying health conditions, contracting COVID-19 could be fatal.

At Walmart in Christiansburg Friday, a store clerk stationed outside the entrance stopped several people who tried to enter the store because they weren’t wearing masks. Walmart has joined other national chains that have stepped up enforcing the use of masks, even in states that don’t require them.

One young woman claimed she had a disability that prevented her from wearing a mask. That disability? “I’m deaf,” she said. A clerk let her in but then a manager told her to get a mask or leave.

We see people forced to wear masks strip them off the second they leave a place where they are required, walking in proximity to others who have done the same.

Why not put on the mask before you leave the house first thing and keep it in place until you leave the car at the end of any trip and park the car in your driveway or garage?

The attention-getting headline on an editorial posted this morning on the website of The Roanoke Times says: “No Friday Night lights? Here’s who to blame.”

In one of the best editorial I’ve read on our current situation, The Times writes:

Why is this? Should we blame Trump for a tepid response? Sure. Or should we blame Gov. Ralph Northam for imposing what some consider draconian restrictions on businesses? If that’s where your heart leads you, have at it. But to find out who’s really to blame, go take a look in the mirror. If the person staring back at you isn’t wearing a mask, then you’re part of the problem. If you just got back from Myrtle Beach — or let your teenagers go off on a summer beach trip to Myrtle — then you’re part of the problem, too. If you were recently out protesting for social justice but not wearing a mask, then you’re part of the problem, as well. The virus doesn’t care whether you’re wearing a Make America Great Again hat or a Black Lives Matter shirt. If you’re not wearing a mask, you are part of the reason why there won’t be high school football this fall — and keep in mind that our invocation of high school football is really just a stand-in for lots of other high school activities that don’t generate the same level of community attention. You’re not only the one shutting down high school sports, you’re the one shutting down concerts and plays. You’re the one shutting down movie theatres. You’re the one shutting down festivals. You’re the one shutting down vast swaths of American culture.

–The Roanoke Times

Others not wearing masks have called me “a liberal” or “a coward” because I wear a mask. I brush it off and move on. Better opponents have called me worse. Outside a store in Christiansburg this week, one of those “cowards” beat the crap out of one of those bare-faced goons. Those watching what happened applauded the “coward.”

We have cut back on patronizing businesses who ignore the Virginia order on masks and social distancing. One manager of a chain that operates in Floyd says he can’t enforce such rules and stay in business.

“I can’t afford to alienate those who feel wearing a mask abridges their freedoms,” he says. “Certainly not in this county.”

But they can afford to allow a practice that infects and kills people?

The director of our country’s Centers of Disease Control says the United States could get the pandemic under control in one or two months if everyone in the nation wore a mask.

The ignorance of masks and social distancing is part of a growing trend of not supporting laws and rules that people don’t agree with. We have a sheriff in Grayson County who has told officers to not enforce any gun laws passed by the new Democratically-controlled legislature if he feels they violate the Second Amendment (which none of them do).

Some other Virginia sheriffs quietly support the wannabe militias that have spouted up like thistles. Floyd County has one, but neither Sheriff Brian Craig or the Board of Supervisors have endorsed it, and they are, for the most part, out of sight in these pandemic times.

Some of those who refuse to wear masks claim that requiring them to do so is a violation of the Constitution. Really? Motorcycles are required to wear helmets. It’s a safety issue, not a Constitutional concern.

Weird times? Yep. Will things get worse? Absolutely.

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