Kindness, compassion and empathy should flow both ways. If you expect to receive kindness, compassion and empathy, you should also give kindness, compassion and empathy to others around you. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that for many people.
For a lot of people (speaking in general and naming no specific individuals because I’m not passive aggressive like that and will call out specific people if I’m really talking about them), kindness, compassion and empathy flow only inwards. That is, they expect to be extended kindness, granted compassion and have others empathically feel for their plight. They give nothing in return
Wearing a mask in public when you cannot control whether or not you will always remain at a greater than six foot distance from other people is about giving the gift of kindness, compassion and empathy to everyone else who is not you. PPE like the N95 mask will protect the wearer from becoming infected. Cloth masks are far less likely to protect the wearer from becoming infected. However, protecting myself isn’t why I wear a mask when I go out grocery shopping.
I wear a mask to protect you. And you. And you over there. And, yes, you. I want other people to wear masks so I can get a little protection in return.
I hope there aren’t people out there who would willingly infect someone else with a deadly disease. I don’t think you would. However, you could infect someone without even knowing it. That infection could kill. One thing that makes the novel coronavirus so deadly is that people can be infected and asymptomatic for more than two days before they show symptoms. People infected with the virus can spread it before they even know they are sick.
What’s worse, people can be infected and be entirely asymptomatic. That is, they will harbor the virus and not once know they are carrying it. Think Typhoid Mary. That could be you. That could be me if I didn’t wear a mask out in public.
I do not wear a mask as some sort of political ploy. I am not part of some conspiracy to limit your freedoms. I wear the mask so that, if I am infected and asymptomatic, I will protect you from becoming infected. I don’t care what your political status, I will not be responsible for infecting someone else if I can help it. I believe in showing kindness and compassion to others, because I can empathize with their lives. Why won’t those who protest wearing masks in public extend me the same courtesy?
As of May 5, more than 71,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. And that’s almost certainly an undercount because we don’t know about people who died outside of hospital systems. More than 1 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus. And that is definitely an undercount because we do not have adequate testing to see the true scope of the disease.
The novel coronavirus responsible for the deadly COVID-19 disease is real. It is a threat and it is not going away. Even when we get a vaccine, there will be people who do not become immune through some fluke of their biology. There are the immunocompromised who can’t receive a vaccination and thus could die if they were exposed to the virus. And, of course, there will be idiots who believe vaccines are evil and are willing to risk the safety of others because they once watched a YouTube video from some guy who said vaccines are dangerous. For now, the best thing we can do to prevent the spread of the disease is to stay away from each other if we have to go out in public. If we can’t stay away from each other, wear a fucking mask.
I think of interacting with others while not wearing a mask to protect them to be akin to drinking and driving. You might down a couple beers and get behind the wheel. You don’t know you’re going to hit someone and kill them, yet the odds are much higher than if you’d called a Lyft. Sure, it’s a pain to call a Lyft, to have to pay for a ride. Yet, if you do, then you’re not going to accidentally kill someone because you drank too much and your judgment and reflexes are for crap.
Yes, it’s a pain to wear a mask when grocery shopping. My nose always itches like crazy the entire time. I desperately yearn to play with my beard and can’t. I wear a mask anyway because I will not be an asshole who effectively murders others because I can’t endure a little discomfort. I will act toward others with kindness, compassion and empathy.
What about you?