I am currently in a small village in Latin America and notice to my dismay that most of the other Europeans here have bought into the harebrained anti-mask, anti-vaccine ideas related to the pandemic.
It means that Europeans tend to have a deservedly bad reputation among the locals. And it means I feel ashamed of being European here.
No matter what my personal opinion on mask-wearing and vaccines is, I would always use a mask and take the vaccine out of respect for the country I am in and the people living here. It’s the least I can do in terms of being a respectful visitor. It’s the least I can do to be a good citizen, no matter where I am.
Certain things are far more important than my own personal idiosyncratic views and opinions on things like mask-wearing, vaccines, and the pandemic in general. And one of these is to be respectful to others and a responsible citizen in whatever society I find myself in.
In general, people who are against mask-wearing and vaccines seem to not care about the illness and suffering of others, including the many who will get long-covid (the pandemic within and after this pandemic), and the many healthcare workers who sacrifice an enormous amount to care for the sick.
They prioritize immature reactivity and their own opinions over the life and well-being of others.
Personally, if there is even the smallest chance that wearing a mask in public and taking the vaccine would prevent long-covid for even one person, or the indirect death of someone, or overflowing hospitals and overworked healthcare workers, I would do it. Even if it’s slightly uncomfortable (masks), or a slight risk (vaccine), or it goes against my personal preferences. Those considerations pale in comparison to what using a mask and taking the vaccine can do for others.
This is all about the precautionary principle, not for me but for others and society as a whole.
As an aside: Many of the Europeans here have some kind of hippie orientation. And although it’s early life-centered, it also tends to be quite immature in many areas of life. It’s a view that often prioritizes oneself over others and society, and one’s own harebrained opinions over those of people who have devoted their lives to study and work within a particular field. It’s an orientation that often lacks nuance and throws the baby out with the bathwater. It’s an orientation less open to the validity in any orientation and view, and is often unable to include it all into an overall and more mature orientation.