I freely admit that I am often mystified by certain aspects of human behavior within American society. The most recent behavior that has me so confused is the hue and cry over mandates, for masks and/or COVID vaccines. It’s an infringement of my freedom, they yell. It’s an example of tyranny, is the frequent shout. Government overreach is the common claim.

This is so confusing to me, in an almost comical way, because of the pervasive mandates across so many aspects of our lives. Mandates that are widely accepted and taken in stride. We live with them day in and day out.

For example, if you own and operate a vehicle, you are mandated to pass a test, pay to register the vehicle, and put a tag on it. You are also mandated to update that registration annually. You are mandated to carry liability insurance. and mandated to wear a seatbelt when operating it. Failure to comply with any one of these mandates will earn you a fine. That’s a tyranny that we live with every day, with little to no complaint, other than about the cost. 

Much of the controversy these days focuses on mandates in schools. But for decades, schools have been mandating that students be vaccinated against a number of communicable diseases, measles, mumps, chicken pox, rubella, etc., all to protect students’ health. It’s a basic health safety measure. Why is the COVID vaccine any different? With COVID pediatric hospitalizations currently being about 20% of the total in Alabama, shouldn’t the health and safety of kids be of critical importance? 

and don’t schools typically have dress codes? Codes that mandate what you can’t wear. Some schools even mandate that students wear uniforms. Why are mask mandates any different? Just consider a mask to be part of a uniform. 

While we’re talking about schools, don’t they also mandate certain safety equipment for sports participation? Why aren’t helmets optional for students playing football? After all, football helmets encourage kids to lead with their heads when blocking and tackling, exposing them to potential spinal cord injuries. Let’s give them the option of traditional helmets, old-fashioned leather helmets, or no helmets instead of current mandates. That’s freedom at work.

Most restaurants mandate that you wear a shirt and shoes if you want service. Apparently, your bare chest and shoeless feet present a public health hazard. Or maybe it’s that your bare chest and feet will spoil the appetites of other patrons, certainly a hazard to the health of the restaurant. Now they mandate a mask too? How terrible. Let the tyranny begin. 

In fact, our entire legal system is a collection of mandates. What you can’t do and what you must do. Christians incorporate into their faith a collection of ten mandates, calling them commandments. What is a commandment other than a mandate? If they can live their lives according to these ten mandates, what’s the problem with a couple of public health mandates? It makes no sense.

The point is, we live with mandates in all parts of our lives. In many cases, we don’t even realize that they’re mandates. In most, we simply accept them as a necessary part of society, follow them, and go on about our lives. Mandates related to COVID should be the same. They are no big deal. Let’s accept that they benefit public health and move on. Our society has much bigger problems to deal with.

(Editor’s Note: While complete data regarding the delta variant’s impact on individuals with developmental disabilities have not been published, preliminary indications are that the impact is similar to that of the original virus: several times as likely than in the general population to produce breakthrough infections and more likely to lead to hospitalizations. It is therefore of critical importance to the health and well being our constituents that all available protections and mitigation techniques be employed in the general population to limit the spread of the virus. We hope that all of our readers agree and support the appropriate public health initiatives.)