masks, Masks, MASKS!

I probably come to the whole mask thing with a slightly different viewpoint than most people. Three years ago, I was required to wear a mask everywhere except at home for five months because I underwent a stem cell transplant. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pleasant, but the threat to my life from various pathogens – most of which aren’t normally a problem – was very clear.

I wore the mask all around the transplant clinic, including to my appointments. When the doctors allowed me to venture out, I wore it to the grocery store, on walks, etc. Once I was released and allowed to return to work, I wore the mask during my three hour daily commute on public transportation. I even kept it on at work except when I was completely alone. Sound familiar? Yes, I was masking before masking was cool! (Or required.) Unlike now, I was the ONLY person wearing a mask.

Never did I anticipate I’d be pulling the masks back out and repeating the process for an even longer period of time due to a pandemic. Yet here we are, and here I am on the way to get my second Covid-19 vaccination with a damned mask firmly in place. Am I tired of wearing the fricking things? Hell yes! Sooooo tired. Am I going to stop wearing masks because I’m frustrated and angry at having my personal liberties curtailed? Hell NO!!

I know this global health crisis is lasting longer than anyone anticipated – longer than the authorities initially told us it would. But for everyone’s sake, not least of all your own, please continue to observe all the Covid-19 protocols recommended by the experts.

Social Distancing

I realize these rules vary from location to location, so we all need to exercise our best judgement. If you choose to gather in close quarters with others not living with you, just remember to be careful. You don’t want to get yourself sick nor any of your friends and loved ones. Well, I hope you don’t. The risks are real, and insisting on your personal liberties now may backfire badly.

Mask Wearing

Some jurisdictions have lifted the requirements or significantly reduced them. The experts, though, still recommend wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, and avoiding crowds (as well as getting a vaccine).

This is where I believe we all have a responsibility to each other, no matter what the political entities in our area allow. If you’re going into an enclosed space among strangers or will be walking within six feet of anybody you don’t live with at any time outside, wear a mask. I repeat: WEAR A MASK. That includes all us folks who have already been vaccinated.

Unlike the people you agree to gather with, strangers at the market or on the sidewalk haven’t consented to play the odds with you. It’s not a question of your personal liberty anymore. It becomes a matter of the general welfare, which is another important founding principle of the United States. Personal liberties and the general welfare work together to “form a more perfect union.” Stop being selfish, lazy, or obstinately rebellious at other people’s expense. They have an EQUAL RIGHT to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If in exercising your liberty you endanger someone else’s life, you’re going against the very fundamentals U.S. founding fathers prized.

In addition, we should all be reminded that effective and compliant masks cover both the nose and mouth fully. To work, masks can’t be worn as chin straps or mouth guards. They must cover nose AND mouth. It’s childish to think you’re innocently getting away with something by non-compliance. There’s nothing innocent about it!

I hate that I still have to put on a mask when I walk out my door. I cannot wait to put all the masks away and leave them there. Now, however, is not the time to be lax and throw caution to the wind. Hang in there! We can get through this, and it’ll go more smoothly and quickly if we all work together. Please! As the old safe driving PSA said, “The life you save may be your own.”

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