In the United States, there’s no doubt that the donning of a mask right now is an extremely charged statement.
Somehow, throughout the pandemic and in the midst of all the I-can’t-believe-this-is-real moments of 2020, a small piece of fabric on your face has become a catalyst for deep political conflict. As the tension around wearing a mask exacerbates and the divide between sides deepens, the mask conflict has become a representation of the ongoing struggle between public safety and personal liberty.
When we take a closer look at the many issues at play here, it’s difficult to point fingers or assign blame. As misinformation became the new norm during the pandemic, the advice we were given as concerned citizens changed too many times over the course of a few months. We’ve been on a rollercoaster, being told not to wear one then to wear one always, so for many, it’s become unclear. With mixed messages coming all the way from the top, no wonder there is currently a lack of awareness and an abundance of misconception.
If empirical data and scientific evidence prove that wearing a mask is the most efficient way to reduce virus transmission, then why are there so many deniers out there?
As I read article after article about the ongoing battle between “pro-maskers” and “anti-maskers,” I never find a definitive stance in my readings, which makes sense within the context of journalistic integrity. But I want it to be absolutely clear that I’m writing this journal with a definitive position I feel convicted by: wear a fucking mask, please. If you feel that by not wearing a mask, you are making an active political statement, you are not. What you are making is an active statement about the lack of regard you have for others. Wearing a mask is about taking responsibility to protect yourself and the people around you.
In my humble opinion, it is baffling that we are the ONLY country in the entire world to have made the wearing of a mask to protect both yourself and others from a deadly and still wildly mysterious virus into a politically charged statement on freedom-of-speech. Not to mention that we are only 4% of the world’s population, yet we make up 25% of all recorded infections, globally, but this is where our leader’s priorities lie. How can wearing a small piece of fabric that makes the difference between life and death become so politicized? Unfortunately, these are the times we are living in, and we do NOT have the comfort of a reliable leader to guide our country through this pandemic.
What we do have are our masks and the ability to take a definitive position in our stance on wearing one. Wearing a mask is an act of compassion, a gesture of mutual respect and concern. I wear my mask to show you I care about your health as much as I care about mine. Your not wearing one only serves as a weak attempt to disguise your selfishness as a “defense of patriotism.” Your personal liberty is not at stake if you wear a mask, but your personal future is if you don’t. And I’ll leave it at that.