Editorial: Face masks are about compassion, not fear
As area businesses and government offices begin to reopen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic we applaud the tri-city mayors for deciding to keep face masks as a choice for residents visiting city and town facilities. However, we do not applaud the mean-spirited, distorted perceptions of some judgmental residents who choose to attack others for their choice to wear one.
While covering a story this weekend we ran into Heather Mead, a Prescott mother picking up needed groceries for her family at Costco. She was wearing a homemade face mask and said she wears one when she’s out, even at stores not requiring a mask. Heather was born in Prescott. She went to Prescott High School. She left the city to attend school but moved back to Prescott to raise her twins. She loves the community and the people who live here. But she is disappointed in the harsh judgment she sees and feels coming from some residents because she chooses to wear a face mask. She wonders what has happened to these people’s compassion, understanding and respect for others.
“I wear a face mask because I think we should all do whatever we can to respect each other,” Mead said.
She expressed her desire to protect others — seniors, children, parents — who must leave their homes to take care of their families or get the things they need. Mead said she does not understand how wearing a mask has become such an affront for some people, especially with an action so simple to take when going into a store for a short shopping visit.
“You don’t have to believe it’s the answer,” Mead said. “Believe it or not. But what does it hurt if wearing a mask has even a small chance of saving someone’s life or helping to slow the spread of the virus.”
This is a common — and common sense — sentiment expressed in comments on The Daily Courier Facebook page.
Karen Boyd posted, “If it stops transmission of COVID in a slightest way, why not? Might help us open up businesses. Rather than get the disease and suffer and lose a month or more. Yes it’s hard to breathe. Yes it annoys but if it helps, think of your fellow man please.”
What disgusts us is how so many voices on Facebook then start to attack these people who are simply expressing a desire to respect and protect others. There is a certain mindset among some of these dart-throwing individuals that the rest of us are ignorant sheep blindly following the government, and that we are living in fear of the virus.
In reply to this faulty assumption, one user named Chris West said, “First of all, I wear a mask in public, not for me, but for you. I want you to know that I am educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic and still give you the virus. No, I do not ‘live in fear’ of the virus; I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem. I don’t feel like the government is ‘controlling me.’ I feel like I am being a contributing adult to society and I want to teach my children the same. I want them to grow up as I did, knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around me; that it’s not all about me and my comfort; that we all should live with other people’s considerations in mind.”
Erin Harris posted, “Wearing a mask in Costco is not about being inconvenienced or being a sheep, it’s about protecting the people who work there so they can continue to provide a service to the community. It also helps protect the others who shop there so they can return home safely without infecting their families. It is just being respectful of your neighbor. Period.”
Caroline Cabral said, “As for me, I will wear one in public places because I care about my health, and other people’s health!”
Penny Strong posted, “We wear a mask to protect others around us. You can be asymptomatic or just incubating without knowing it. That’s the issue with this virus, you can carry the virus and infect others everywhere you go. Hello human kindness. When did we all stop caring about our fellow man?”
Our editorial board agrees.
So while the local mayors are respecting our right to choose whether to wear a face mask or not, we respect people like Heather, Chris, Erin, Caroline and Penny who are taking individual steps to protect their neighbors. Such compassion and consideration is something the world, and our tri-cities, needs right now.
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