We’d like to believe that suffering instructs and ennobles. But, once again, Donald Trump seems to be ineducable
Ever since we learned that there are ways to limit the spread of the Covid-19, we have understood that mask-wearing was intended not only to safeguard our own wellbeing but to insure the safety of others. Social distancing was not simply a means of personal protection but a civic responsibility that might protect the most vulnerable – and, as it has turned out, the otherwise healthy young people who, tragically, have succumbed to the virus.
Even if we don’t believe in science, even if we don’t believe in the virus, even if don’t believe in the efficacy of wearing masks, we might, it seems to me, have adopted some version of Pascal’s famous wager. Though the existence of God cannot be definitively proven, posited the 17th-century philosopher, it would be wise to assume and behave as if God does exist: an attitude with no downside (except the fear of sin) and a host of likely benefits (heaven). Regardless of our stance on the course and prevention of the pandemic, why not take the gamble: wear a mask, keep our distance – and protect the lives of other people? But this response presupposes that we care about the lives of other people.