By: Brian Evans

There are several things that I wanted to express following Monday night’s Joplin City Council meeting! I was one of the speakers that addressed the council, prior to their moving to phase 4, and deciding not to renew the mask mandate, and lifted capacity limits for struggling Joplin businesses!

Image via Joplin Globe

Everyone knows where I stand on the issue of masks and mandates! You all know that I believe that businesses have the right to enforce masking protocols in their businesses, but the government has no place imposing authoritarian policies on businesses, especially when it puts in place policies that determine the success or failure of a business, especially when it is the business owner who has their life and life-savings invested, not the bureaucrats who run our nation, state, or city! But, regardless of my beliefs, we live in a Constitutional Republic, founded on the principles of the almighty God!

In addition, I have friends on both sides of the issue, and I have seen family members split, friends turn on one another, and strangers attack those who they cross paths with, simply because they are wearing a mask, or not wearing a mask!

One reason that I fell in love with Joplin was more than Joplin being a safe and great city to raise my children! Also, I have always found Southwest Missouri to be filled with people who care for one another and show respect for each other, regardless of differences of opinions and varying beliefs, nationality, race, or sex! Then, after the tornado, I experienced a city that was unified with a purpose… TO LOOK OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER, AND TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER!
I saw strangers take care of strangers, neighbors who lost everything, rush over to make sure their fellow Joplinites were safe, not even thinking about what they had personally lost! There were average citizens rushing into the twisted metal and broken glass of St. Johns hospital, helping to evacuate the sick and wounded out of harms way, without regard to their own safety! There were nurses and doctors who were lost at sea with no compass, as they had no power, no equipment, as citizens brought them unhinged doors, made into make-shift stretchers, as they strapped the injured to the doors, carrying them down the stairs, with people taking turns to hand ventilate the dying! The selflessness was nearly overwhelming and all-inspiring! It made me proud to call Joplin my home, and I know that it must have made God smile, as his children turned a dark day into an array of light, coming from every corner of our shining city on a hill!

Sadly, today, we are letting political differences lead us to verbal assaults, disrespect for those with different beliefs or opinions, and hate towards our fellow man! I hear of some against the mask being mean to those who wear a mask by calling them cowards, and those for the mask verbally attacking those who don’t wear one as selfish and evil! Sadly, even a small few even stating that they hope the maskless die of COVID-19, for going against what they personally believe! Meanwhile, those on both sides have refused to do business with Joplin businesses as they crush privately owned brick and mortar stores who are struggling to survive, with no real options to defend themselves from closure! Businesses who were afraid to take sides, as not defending themselves against the mandate was leading them to losing their hard earned businesses, but taking a side would cost them large portions of their clientele either way! It was a position that the City Council put them in, which should never have been!

That is not the Joplin that I know!

However, now is not the time to be divided! Now, is not the time to let the mainstream media turn us against our fellow neighbors, family, or friends Instead, it is time to be a shining example to a nation and world, who has become embroiled in violence, hate, and evil deeds against their fellow man!

It is time to be an example, as we show that Joplin cares for one another, not because we wear a mask, or don’t wear one! It is time to move past the idea of pro or anti-mask! It is time that we show what being a Joplin resident truly means… After all, it means that we care for one another, love one another, and respect one another! We should respect each other, regardless of mask or no mask! We should look for ways to bring joy to those who are secluded in nursing homes by creating pen pals between our schools and nursing homes! Tractor Supply even brought fish and a cattle tank, and let the nursing home residents fish, right at the nursing home!

We should create hours with businesses where those at high risk can come into businesses and shop, or delivery services so they don’t have to get out if they are afraid! We should give Joplin owned brick and mortar businesses as much business as we can, over corporate companies who have used the pandemic to steal power and wealth! We should find ways to reassure our young children, as many have become terrified by what they see on Mainstream Media networks!

Ultimately, it is time for Joplin to remember our roots, which is founded in love, caring, and respect for our fellow citizens, and most importantly the Lord Almighty God! Only then will Joplin return to the shining city that I so fondly remember only a few short years ago!