I don’t understand why so many of us get fired up about wearing a face mask. Yes, it’s hot and unpleasant and definitely not something anyone wants to do. I tear the thing off the moment I’m alone or properly socially distanced.
Americans inherently defy authority, especially, when it comes to personal freedoms, so this mask-wearing thing is seen by some as government overreach and an infringement on their right to choose. But it’s really not that simple.
Mask wearing and social distancing are proven, protective measures that help flatten the curve of this viral outbreak, and neither will be necessary forever if we all pitch in for the benefit of each other. For now, both of these safeguards are essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19.
When we wear face masks, we’re protecting others. When they wear one, they’re protecting us. It’s one thing to go out in public without a mask and risk your own health, and, normally, I’d say knock yourselves out. But arbitrarily choosing not to wear a mask because you just don’t want to is entirely different. Your decision potentially jeopardizes someone else’s health.
Don’t get me wrong, people. I’ve been a maverick all my life. My parents used to tell me I had to learn everything the hard way. Being told I had to do something used to make me want to do the exact opposite, a position many Americans, unfortunately, are taking these days. But this kind of thinking is immature and, in in the face of COVID-19, quite selfish.
Wearing a mask doesn’t diminish anyone in any way. On the contrary, it’s a selfless act that shows we care about each other and about the way we impact the world around us.
We all have had to do things we don’t think are fair or necessary, but we adapt. We can no longer smoke in public places; we must wear a seat belt; we can’t dine in a restaurant without wearing a shirt and shoes; and the list goes on. And although we have the right to free speech, we can’t scream “Fire” in a theater if there isn’t one.
Even if you’re someone who feels face masks, social distancing and the coronavirus itself are politically motivated, a conspiracy or, scientifically, a hoax, why would you take a chance on unknowingly passing COVID-19 to a loved one, friend, neighbor… or anyone, for that matter?
Have we become so self-absorbed in this country that we can’t bring ourselves to comply with an ordinance, even if someone else’s health or life is at stake?
I repeat, mask wearing isn’t a forever thing. After all these months, you’d have to be living under a rock not to know that some people can acquire COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic; some get the virus and go through living hell but survive. And, sadly, there are others who may suffer a horrendous death alone. Many of those who manage to survive COVID-19 can suffer serious, long-term after-effects.
It’s easy to dismiss the odds of catching coronavirus, but due to its capricious nature, anyone at any age can get it. Some folks look at the percentage of those who test positive for COVID-19, compare it to the death rates and overall population, and then dismiss the numbers as insignificant.
I’m afraid those people are not going to grasp the true significance of what’s going on until someone close to them becomes deathly ill. And it will likely be caused by someone, who not wanting to be temporarily inconvenienced, passed their symptoms along. That someone could be you.
There’s also this: If this virus keeps advancing, renewed government shutdowns, the further closings of small businesses and a weakening economy are all on the immediate horizon. This also applies to not being able to hold public gatherings or not being able to safely enjoy the company of family and friends.
The solution is simple. All we need do is follow the CDC guidelines until an effective vaccine is found.
As a nation, it’s about time we get over ourselves and come together for the common good. THAT, my friends, is the American way. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.
So just get on board, people. Just wear a #@%*mask.
Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed are not necessarily shared by The Observer News or M&M Printing Co., Inc.