Sometimes I am amazed at the resistance to the vaccines, masks, and many of the restrictions our government has placed upon Americans these past 18 months. I have heard young people believe that their religion and their God will protect them. I have heard some profess that there are antibodies in these shots that will have long-term negative effects. I have heard that Bill Gates has designed these vaccines so that we can all be traced wherever we go through an inserted particle.

I do not buy these reasons as much of a cause for no vaccines. I do buy that some are so arrogant that they feel that their health will protect them even if they do contract the virus. While that is probably true, they can still bring it home to loved ones not so immune.

With the God issue, I would think that if God wants us saved, then he might well want someone to find a cure for deadly diseases as has been done so many times in the history of man, be it polio, smallpox, or whatever. As has been said, “God helps those who help themselves.”

So what really drives so many to resist the vaccine or even masks? This may well lie in the basis of America — the right to be free.

Reading an article by columnist G.C. Stoppel got me thinking about our founding. Many of the Pilgrims were fleeing repression in their home countries from clergy, leaders, and even military. They became free thinkers and found few rules in their new country, colonial America. But before too long, they realized that they were being restricted in their new country in some ways as well. For many, to escape the same feelings of repression that they had before, they moved further west. Some went to western New York. It is said that unhappy Virginians went further west — thus West Virginia came to be.

This went on for decades. Why would people go to the Bad Lands of South Dakota or the desolate plains of Oklahoma? For many, it was believed that freedom from these new restrictions that were coming to them even in their beloved America could be avoided by moving again.

It is said that Tom Lincoln, Abe’s father, professed that when he could smell the smoke of another’s chimney, it was time to move farther away. And this led to a log cabin in the middle of nowhere for young Abe.

So the migration continued. The pioneers moved west in their covered wagons and faced new dangers of the unknown and even unhappy Indian tribes in order to escape the restraints of new laws, taxes, and moral restraints. In addition, they were finding newer and larger competition in their various endeavors back home.

In Stoppel’s column, I read that in 1893, a national convention concluded that the western frontier was closed. There was really no new land and the west coast had been reached along with most of the land in between.

Think about it today. With a few exceptions such as Alaska, Montana, or even the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, that freedom from restraint just doesn’t exist. In those limited areas, the residents seem to really not care about the world and just live their somewhat primitive lives. But that does not mean that there aren’t people who still have the same perceived need for that ultimate freedom.

When people profess that they have the absolute right to not vaccinate or not wear a mask, they are the believers that the world has room for the non-conformists. While we all love the freedoms of America, we, for the most part, must then accept that with a country of about 350 million, there is a need for rules to protect society. We need to pay taxes to run the country, build roads, and have a national defense force for our own protection to name a few.

The question then becomes whether the new restrictions in health care carry the same requirements of compliance? Does the health of our entire country to beat this pandemic require compliance of all citizens?

Certainly the people of outback Alaska or the mountains of Montana feel that they have moved to these parts to “keep” the rights of total freedom. I get it. At the same time, does the health of our country need total compliance from all, or only of those who believe in some governmental control?

Bottom line, people, the West Coast and most of the land in between were totally settled 130 years ago. There is no more going west to escape rules and regulations. We now require seatbelts and no young children in the front seat. There are those who won’t comply even though it is for their own safety or that of their children. These people will fight forever that this is a given right to not comply, and we must acknowledge that those attitudes exist but still try to make this country the best country we can.

Can we do this without hate and recrimination?

I chose to comply even though masks are a bit uncomfortable, and the second vaccine shot did give me a tough day two. How about you?

Dennis Marek can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or through his personal email at dmarek@ambltd.com.