When someone makes the conscious decision to not wear a mask or to not vaccinate themselves, free will plays a factor. However, that same freedom comes with collateral effects for everyone else. In a pandemic, moral responsibility should be a priority.
By | Sewit Haile
For us Catholics, free will is a concept first introduced to us in the Bible: through free will, we have the freedom to choose between the decisions that will lead us closer to or further away from God. Our conscious decisions frame the outcomes in our lives. This freedom to make our own choices, however, comes with a moral responsibility – when practicing this way of life, do we think about how our decision may affect others?
Free will is vitally important because it maintains the belief that each individual is responsible for their own actions. People choose a path (unbound) and they must pay any consequences for all mistakes. So, it can be easily troubling when some take advantage of their freedom of choice and use it to justify their potentially problematic behavior.
We can see a perfect example of this when we observe anti-maskers. Anti-maskers often make the argument that they have the right to refuse to wear a mask. According to the CDC, COVID-19 can easily spread from one individual to another through airborne transmission, and the easiest prevention of this is for both parties to be wearing a mask. No one is legally obligated to wear masks, but we wear them for the safety of ourselves and others. However, anti-maskers use their free will to justify actions that residually could cause others to contract COVID-19.
Anti-vaxxers (those who choose not to vaccinate themselves), often out of fear of the potentially harmful side effects, make a similar argument against allowing themselves or their children to get vaccinated. But, is the fear of a child getting autism (one of the very widespread, incorrect side effects that have been believed to be linked to vaccines) more of a risk than them contracting a completely preventable sickness? Their children didn’t get the choice to be for or against the vaccine. And, yes, parents are responsible for making decisions for their children until they’re able to themselves, but it’s something to think about.
These are just two examples, but they are two big issues in today’s pandemic climate. Of course, I believe that we should have the freedom to do what we want and make conscious decisions (it’s what makes humans unique as a species, after all). However, when it begins to affect those around us, and individuals use it to defend their wrongful actions, we see how it can become dangerous.