RISING SUN - I’ve been an early supporter of mask wearing. It may come as no surprise that I have a huge assortment at this point of fancy homemade ones made by various friends–flowers, dinosaurs, cabbage print, newsprint and disposable, elastic ears and tie-around-the-head.
What does come as a surprise to me is the massive resistance to said masks. Down to the point of being argumentative in person for some and on social media at least for me.
I try to keep things mellow and non-offensive on Facebook. But when someone goes off about how dumb wearing a mask in a store is, I can’t help but feel riled up. I admittedly played into the post and commented “it’s all an overblown social media panic until it’s your loved one who gets sick.” The original poster proceeded to send me a Facebook live message from a ‘doctor’ denouncing masks. I tried to respectfully decline watching it citing my realization we have very separate views that probably aren’t going to change anytime soon, and leave it at that.
Yet, I really felt, ruffled for the greater mankind. I like so many others, am so emotionally exhausted by this whole slice of life. Navigating difficult social situation decisions, isolation, uncertainty, doubt, darkness and depression. It all seems like something that I should be a little more versed in, but I’m not. So, I see masks as a small string of hope and compassion. A lifeboat in the pandemic sea of lonesomeness and heartbreak, I want to believe that if we all were to show that we care enough about our fellow humans to keep our germs to ourselves we might be able to breathe a collective (perhaps unmasked?) sigh of relief.
But so many are afraid to trust the process, the experts, or even us–the old media. Instead, they forgo science and facts for YouTube and a whole new brand of fear. I wonder though, would those same people expect their surgeon to wear a mask while examining their open heart? Would they wear one to visit a relative they love dearly compromised by cancer? I don’t know. But, I’d like to hope so. So why not now? Why not during this important moment in history, when we are all so anxious to get back to normal, do we not forgo momentary comfort for the greater good of our fellow human beings, some of whom we may not even know? I wish I could understand.
I will admit, there are times when the lines have blurred for me too. Risks were taken and mistakes were made.
I have a small amount of people in my life whom I am closer than six feet to without a mask–my pandemic pod as it were. When I’m outside and around people, I don’t always wear it when social distance allows me. I’m not perfect by any means or the world’s best mask police, but I’m trying to do my best. Once or twice, in a rush I’ve even walked into a store without wearing my mask. Halfway through my trip I began realizing and feeling the horror of potentially exposing strangers to the unknowns of my germs. Overall, I’ve really tried to keep my germs to myself–and spend too much time overthinking moments when I get too close to others.
This column may sound harsh to those who are not willing to mask up particularly in public like grocery stores etc, but I urge those of you feeling this way to please consider it. There are so many people who cannot protect themselves for various reasons. Former Crawford County Public Health Nurse Gloria Wall would always say when we would discuss the yearly flu that we just don’t get the flu shot for us, we get it for people who we love who aren’t protected by it–the very old, the very young, the sick. And since we don’t have a vaccine for COVID (not a debate I’m here to tackle today,) masks are our next best option. Our opportunity to show compassion and love for our community and the people in it.
So, today, I ask you if you have taken a stand against masks, to please, reconsider and try your best to show compassion. Please take a moment to consider protecting your community and opening your heart to the ability to show love to those you don’t know in the form of isolating your droplets in public in a humble piece of cotton. We don’t know what the future holds, or where this pandemic will go, but I’d like to have all of my loved ones make it through it and I’m sure you would too. And maybe. just maybe, a small inconvenience like a mask when you run into the store might help this particular chapter to close in our lifetime.