By Larry Levine –

We’re aren’t going. Our long-anticipated 12-days by the ocean is postponed until after the current stay-at-home order is cancelled, whenever that may be.

It was difficult to realize we wouldn’t be able to take these few days away after nine months of virtual sequestration. What wasn’t difficult was the decision to act on our basic belief in the individual responsibility to the collective good.

No, I’m not looking for praise or laudatory responses. I’m simply stating again what I’ve written before: if we want to be angry during this pandemic we should aim the anger in the proper direction, not at the elected officials and health department leaders who are trying to keep us safe but at those few among us who refuse to act responsibly. They raise the constitution to justify their self-serving actions. They deny science to grant themselves permission to satisfy themselves.

They are the sheriff of Riverside County CA who says he will not enforce any of the new protocols. They are the seniors golf club that sends an email to its members with instructions as to how to evade the local reservation restrictions. They are the restaurant owner who refused to shutdown until the county threatened to pull his health department permit. They are the supervisors of counties who ask to be exempted from the protocols and in so doing embolden local citizens to ignore those restrictions.

As a food writer and devoted restaurant diner, my heart breaks for the industry that is being pilloried by this pandemic. But to deny there is a risk of exposure even in outdoor dining is to deny reality. One so called expert argued in today’s L.A. Times that outdoor dining is safer if people wear masks between bites. How about between sips of wine or water? One of the L.A. County Supervisors who voted against shutting down restaurants argued there’s only a little more than a three percent chance of contracting the virus during outdoor dining.

That’s everyone’s excuse: what I’m doing only has a small chance of exposing someone. Now let’s add up all those small chances and ask for volunteers.

I learned from a psychologist some 30 years ago that there’s a difference between the want-master and the need-master. In the instance of the previously mentioned golf club it’s the difference between “I want to play golf” and “I need to play golf.”

Chances are Jennifer and I could have gone ahead with our trip with very little risk. We were to travel by car, not by any common carrier. We were to stay in a rented house, not a hotel or condo. We planned to have all meals in the house and leave the property only to stock the refrigerator and freezer, just as we do at home.

But in the final analysis we knew we would not be comfortable making the trip because it would mean doing what we have criticized others for doing: putting ourselves and our wants ahead of our responsibility to the collective community. It takes the acts of so few to prolong the danger to so many and we couldn’t be part of that.

I was thinking the other day that with the attitude of so many of today’s Americans we could not have won WW II. We would have fought and won an individual battle and then said we were finished rather than continuing to carry the fight to the enemy. That’s what we are doing today: we take action to stem a surge and then sit back and smugly believe the enemy virus is defeated. What we’re doing is working so let’s stop doing it. The virus isn’t defeated and it won’t be as long as there are those who brazenly and wantonly scratch their own itches and deny the societal disease.