I am not the first person to wonder this aloud: Why has mask-wearing become such a political issue? Why has our country divided over something as simple as wearing a mask to help stop the spread of a dangerous virus that is threatening the very livelihood of our country?
This is one of the most confounding developments of the Trump cult since he was elected. Trump is somehow convincing human beings that the coronavirus is a hoax and that, for some reason, the Democrats are perpetuating it because they want the country to stay closed, keep people out of work and force kids to stay home from school. The Trump supporters swallow that line like a communion wafer without asking the next, reasonable question: Why?
Why would Democrats want to shut down the country? The answer is: They don’t. It’s simply not true and anyone who thinks otherwise should look around and see that for themselves. Instead, Trump true believers would rather buy into the narrative where wearing a mask is an attack on their very civil rights. Even though putting on a mask is as easy as stopping at a stop sign–another thing we all do to stay safe and protect others–the true believers appear to instead put not only others at risk, but their very own health in order to rail against those of us who are willingly slipping into a light cotton face covering to join in the fight against the spreading disease.
Social media is rife with videos and accounts of people getting all indignant and somewhat rude and disrespectful over wearing masks. One viral video showed a woman arguing with a receptionist at a dentist’s office demanding to be seen even after she was told she had to have a mask to sit in the waiting area. She went on to argue that she had consulted her lawyer and it was within her rights or she could sue! Which means of course that she planned this assault on the poor receptionist. She had her legal rights and her camera assistant ready to go so she could attack the office where she apparently gets her teeth worked on. Can you imagine the hygienist who had to work on that woman’s teeth after such a spectacle? Wonder what could happen under anesthesia? That would be a fun video to watch.
This woman was ridiculous, but there are also accounts of violence and actual rights violations. It is frightening how politicized wearing a mask has become. People venturing out after months of isolation feel comfortable doing so by wearing a mask only to be coughed upon or ridiculed. Why should grocery clerks, receptionists, greeters at Walmart, people simply doing their jobs, have to bear the brunt of anyone’s bad, and quite honestly, irrational behavior? And in a particularly disturbing development, the sheriff of Marion County, Florida has outright banned his deputies from wearing masks while on duty. His memo also bars members of the public from coming into the offices or substations while wearing a mask and instructs them to leave the building and call instead. The sheriff claims he “carefully considered” this decision–in direct opposition to a recent Ocala city council ordinance–even as he characterized the potential response to it as “whining.”
I’ve heard the excuses: “I have a medical issue” or “It’s uncomfortable.” It’s true, these things can be very uncomfortable and in 90-degree summer heat it can be stifling. But being sick is uncomfortable. Getting hooked up to a ventilator is stifling. Those who can’t wear a mask because of a so-called medical condition are given lots of ways to get their carrots and their deodorant. As far as I can tell, nearly every local and chain store in this country has been offering shopping assistance or curbside pick up. Everyone from restaurants to hardware stores are offering some kind of delivery service, so what is the problem? My liquor store offers curbside pickup and I honestly hope it continues–it’s the easiest thing since mail-in voting.
There must be a place in all of this where there is an intersection of humanity and understanding.
The Masked are often accused by the Masked-nots of being “scared.”
But doesn’t it seem more accurate that it is actually the Masked-nots who are scared? They are the ones acting out angrily and violently against a custom that is one of the most benign activities one can do to help fight the virus spread.
Personally, I am not scared when I put on a mask to go out in public or drop over at a neighbor’s
house to have a cup of coffee–outside and six feet away. We do other things that have become socially acceptable, like:
- Wearing a seat belt in your car and on a plane.
- Not tossing your empty Starbucks coffee cup out the window while you’re driving down the highway.
- Not going barefoot in a public store or restaurant–which each of those places has the right to enforce.
- Observing one-way street signs.
- Paying your taxes.
- Covering your mouth when you sneeze.
Some things we do because there are laws for them–even if we don’t like or agree with them
–and some things we do as a courtesy to our neighbors or environment.
It’s a social contract, not a limitation of rights.
We comply with directions from leadership or other authority because it helps us or it helps our fellow citizens.
I’m not only going to keep wearing masks until science tells me
otherwise, I’m going to buy myself a new one. Probably the one you see here.