Mask

Americans have far too many reasons to be angry. And far too many of those reasons involve matters of life and death and dignity. I could fill this page with reasons for anger and still not have listed all of them. It appears to me that the major sticking point in America’s anger is politics. I understand and expect politicians to get involved in many of those issues.

But not medicine.

Each of us has a personal hot button, and as of March 2020, mine became medicine. My anger boils down to a question: How can anyone with an ounce of common sense believe a politician knows the best way to manage a pandemic? Especially a politician who is neither a specialist in infectious diseases—nor a physician. 

I cannot know for certain whether our nation could have done a better job of controlling the spread of COVID-19. But I do know the infections continue, and Americans are confused and divided.

Yes. Divided.

So much so that wearing or not wearing a mask may be regarded as a political statement.

We are confused and divided because our leadership has not given us a consistent message. Today people all over our country are facing a common enemy. Still, somehow our leaders have managed to make the way we fight the enemy on our shores a battle among ourselves rather than against the Coronavirus. It is a battle Americans must come together to combat the enemy with a unified battle plan. Didn’t the president tell the nation he is a wartime president?

I think the world agrees that the virus is airborne, and an excellent way to get infected is by inhaling it. To date, I have not heard anyone claim otherwise.

So, I am going to exercise a little common sense—and it is not a strain to exercise enough to understand that if the virus is airborne and we want to avoid the virus, we must take precautions against breathing it into our bodies. Other than avoiding situations where the virus may be in the air, an effective way to help prevent spreading it is to wear a mask.

I hate wearing a mask. It makes my glasses fog over. The straps tangle in my hearing aids, and I fear I will lose them. Still, when I am anywhere near other people, I wear a mask to do my small part to protect them.

There! Common sense and nothing political about it.

Ah, but what about your right not to wear one?

It’s true. Except in the places that require masks, you have a right to remain bare faced.

I cannot do that because, more than I do not want to get infected, I do not want to infect someone else. Somehow the idea that I, even unknowingly, caused serious illness or death would unsettle me. Yes, my parents instilled the Golden Rule in their son, and I want it to continue to guide my life.

But there is more to the issue than rights. There is that huge bugaboo named responsibility.

I agree with the president. We are at war, and so far, the only way to kill the enemy is to starve it. We starve it by not infecting one another. In starving the virus, each one of us is a foot soldier. When all soldiers focus on and fulfill their responsibilities, they make a formidable army. Shirkers are not welcome because they are a danger to the other soldiers.

But it is not just my “Jiminy Cricket” that would unsettle me. I believe the only way we can ever defeat this enemy is to look out for one another. There are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of highly vulnerable people out there. Although we don’t see their vulnerabilities, their bodies cannot fight infections the way most people can because their immune systems are compromised.

I do not know all the reasons immune systems get compromised, but I know cancer patients and transplant recipients are high on the list. All of this gets personal for me because I have a daughter who lives because of her transplant. I wear a mask to protect her and others, but I also wear it because to do otherwise would dishonor the family whose child enabled my daughter to continue her life.

I ask, NO, I beg you to join me in doing a tiny bit to protect one another, no matter your political ideology.