There’s been a lot of hype in the news and social media lately about wearing masks. The Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Government has made it mandatory to wear masks inside public places. There are no active cases, so what gives?
This decision has left three types of groups: those that agree with the government; those that disagree with the government; and those who are neutral on the matter. Some questions being fired around: “Does it actually make a difference wearing a mask?”, “Why should I have to wear one?”, “Isn’t this just the government exercising its control over the people?”
Throughout Canada different groups are protesting that their rights are being violated by the Government, while some others are confused by the standards that are being set: you can laugh and socialize in a restaurant but yet you’re discouraged to sing in a socially distanced church service?
Here is my opinion.
A lesson from the past
World War Two is raging across the globe. The Germans have been ravaging Europe, Britain and other countries since 1939 by land and air, while at sea they are strangling the allied war effort with devastating precision.
One of the greatest threats to British and North American shipping was a vessel that travelled on the waters…and also below.
The German “Unterseeboot” or U-Boat for short.
The U-Boat was a true terror.
Imagine something traveling under the waves that could, without warning, blow a massive hole in your ship with a torpedo. Usually the destruction so immense you had only minutes for everyone to abandon ship.
Well as soon as World War Two started on September 1, 1939, the U-Boat’s began wreaking havoc on Allied shipping in the North and South Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic reached its peak in 1942 when Hitler declares “total war” against the Allies: virtually every ship became a target.
One such vessel was the S.S. Caribou, a Newfoundland passenger ship that would make the crossing from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland.
Then on the 14th October, 1942 during the middle of the night, U-69 came upon the S S Caribou crossing the Gulf of St Lawrence, accompanied with an escort warship. After seeing her smoke (the captain believed her to be a freighter not a passenger ship) a torpedo was fired into her starboard side. The ship went down quickly.
136 people died, including 10 children.
It’s was dark. There were no lights or any moonlight to help decipher it’s true identity.
Further south though, the story was quite different.
New York City.
The picturesque Statue of Liberty, the beautiful shore line of the Eastern seaboard, busy streets all shining in its brilliance and glory.
Shining for all to see.
Including the enemy.
Lurking in the waters offshore, watchful eyes scanned the well-lit shoreline hoping to see a prize.
American oil ships, freighters and other vessels slowly steam along. It was a common practice for ships to sail with lights out to avoid detection by German U-Boats.
However what good are blacked out ships when they are perfectly silhouetted against a beautiful, well lit city coastline?
Boom. Down goes one.
Boom. Over thirty kilometres away residents in a house feel their house shake as a freighter carrying ammunition blows up.
Boom. A cargo ship full of weapons, medical supplies, badly needed for Britain’s troops. Down it goes to the depths.
“Madness! What fool would allow such needless slaughter to happen? Dim the city lights! The ships would hardly be seen then.”
Bad for business
New York, Miami, Atlantic City, and other coastal cities refused to turn off the lights for the first three months of this onslaught in the early months of 1942. (WarfareHistoryNetwork)
Bad for business.
The Government “recommended” coastal cities to put in place “Blackouts”, however some local authorities refused.
An official American history document about that decision:
One of the most reprehensible failures on our part was the neglect of the local communities to dim their waterfront lights, or of military authorities to require them to do so, until three months after the submarine offensive started. When this obvious defense measure was first proposed, squawks went up all the way from Atlantic City to southern Florida that the ‘tourist season would be ruined.’ Miami and its luxurious suburbs threw up six miles of neon-light glow, against which the southbound shipping that hugged the reefs to avoid the Gulf Stream was silhouetted. Ships were sunk and seamen drowned in order that the citizenry might enjoy business and pleasure as usualOperation Drumbeat’s Devastating Toll on Allied Shipping – Warfare History Network
A total of 129 tankers were lost in American waters in the first five months of 1942.
The British had extensive experience conducting blackouts. They had suffered grave losses by the Germans. Cities bombed from the air, ships sunk by U-boat’s with thousands of lives lost. They knew that everyone must do their part to help protect their fellow man.
That was done by turning off your lights, a common practice in England and her commonwealth partners.
How important was it to obey the rules enforced by the Government? I read online that a German bomber pilot could see a house from a single light, thousands of feet in the sky through a bombsight. With this target they could level the whole city block with high explosive bombs with this light as a beacon.
So when the British warned the Americans, why didn’t anyone listen?
The numbers were there. The facts were there. The bodies floating in the water were there. The sailors wives knew, as did the fatherless children. So why did so many people resist?
Because people didn’t want their comfort disrupted . They didn’t want their “rights and liberties” violated to an unseen enemy.
Those who weren’t directly impacted by the loss of a loved one seemed to be immune to the loss and resisted any change in the process.
“During the first half of 1942, in coastal waters from Canada to the Caribbean, more than 360 merchant ships and tankers totaling about 2,250,000 gross tons went to the bottom. An estimated 5,000 lives, mostly merchant seamen, were lost.” (Warfare History Network)
Fighting an unseen enemy
Today we are fighting against an unseen enemy as well. The Coronavirus virus or Covid-19.
As of 12:44PM, September 1st, Newfoundland Standard Time, the official tally was : 25,000,000 cases, 16,700,000 recovered, 848,005 deaths.
“Christian, why on earth did your talk about World War Two? Are you actually comparing that to Covid-19?” In one respect I am.
My first question to you is:
“If you could turn off your lights, to save a life, would you do it?”
It would involve reducing your comfort and personal freedom.
Second question: “If wearing a mask (even though there are no active cases) could decrease the chance of yourself or someone else getting the virus would you wear one?”
If you knew a submarine was hunting you, you’d take precautions, wouldn’t you? After all it could save your life or someone else’s.
If you can wear a mask to help…you could be saving someone’s life.
I leave this with you today.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”Jesus, Matthew 7:12