Op/Ed: Joy or fear

With the state’s mask mandate overturned and Omicron subsiding soon, the Unionville community is at a crossroads. We have an opportunity to do a great thing, the right thing, for the children. As a previous op-ed writer opined, it is indeed a time for choosing.

We can choose to embrace joy, laughter, smiles, and the emotional health of our children. We can choose to respect parents’ intimate knowledge of their own children’s needs and allow them to make the best choices for their families. We can let go of oppressive restrictions- forced masking, distancing, and plexiglass dividers that rob each moment of the warmth and connection and humanity our children need to thrive. We can restore elementary school concerts, parties, and field trips with parents and friends present to share in the celebration of milestones. We can fill what’s left of their fleeting childhoods with beautiful memories.

Or we can choose fear. Worse yet, we can continue to force that fear onto others who do not share in it and mandate that they submit their children to measures they consider harmful, causing deep moral anguish. We can continue to count on the children’s “resilience” until, like rubber bands, they are stretched too far and cannot be restored.

Children have always been afforded “first into the lifeboat” status because they are our most valuable treasures. All our hopes and dreams rest on them being well prepared to meet future challenges. Throughout history, on an organ transplant team, in an actuary’s calculations, in a disaster triage situation, when difficult decisions must be made, children’s lives have outweighed the lives of the elderly and frail. Most parents and grandparents would undertake huge burdens and make tremendous sacrifices for the children's sake.

We have never reversed that moral calculus for so long and to such terrible detriment to the children for what, at this point, is a rapidly diminishing benefit to the community. When the children flourish, a society flourishes. It is time to lead our children out of the long night and back into the sunshine — into a world of smiling friends and teachers and warm embraces, a world where their tiny shoulders no longer bear the weight of our fears. Let them shrug off that terrible weight. Let them breathe freely, smile widely, and laugh openly again. Let them be children again while they still can.

Lori Peters
Birmingham Township

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