Why Masks Provide a Sense of Control in a Chaotic World
July 13, 2020
As we roll into the beginning of month five of our COVID-19 pandemic journey, the world feels chaotic and impossible to navigate. Living in unprecedented times is not for the faint of heart. Opinions are many, media is abundant, and it feels as if people are just looking for a fight. One of the many topics up for constant debate is the use of masks in public spaces. For me and my family the answer is simple – we will be wearing masks for the foreseeable future.
For Public Safety
We follow many rules and regulations as a matter of public safety. We post speed limits, have age limitations on alcohol and tobacco use, and car seat laws to name a few. I see mask wearing as another regulation that is meant to keep people safe. With every rule, there will be people who disagree. I know many people who believe it is unreasonable and unfair that you can enlist in the Army at age 18 and go to war for your country, but you cannot purchase alcohol. Does that opinion give a person justification not to follow the rule set in place? I don’t think it does. Many others think 55 MPH is way too slow to drive on a 4 lane highway, but we expect people to follow the rules regardless of their opinion. Asking people to wear a mask in public is another rule to follow whether we agree or not.
Potential for Good vs Harm
I am not a doctor, nurse, or scientist. My opinions are my own and are not of the level of an expert. My actions are motivated by concern for my health and the health of others during a global crisis. A health crisis that most closely compares to a Flu in 1918. Our world is a very different place in 2020 as compared to 1918. I venture to say our potential for spread of any virus is exponentially greater in 2020. We have the means and the methods to move around the world and come in contact with large numbers of people in short periods of time. Wearing a mask reduces the spread of germs. The potential for good when used and worn correctly is high.
Masks are hot and uncomfortable for most. If you do not have them you need to buy them or make them. For some they cause issues with breathing for medical reasons. There are members of our communities with PTSD from abusive trauma for which masks cause horrible anxiety and panic. We have autistic members of our community who cannot wear masks due to sensory issues. With everything, we need to look at the good versus the harm and make logical decisions. Never do we have a 100% one size fits all solution.
So What’s Your Motivation
Everywhere I look I see debates over mask wearing. My question, what is your motivation? Some answers I’ve notice against masks are:
“It is my right to not wear a mask. It is a free country.”
“Masks are hot and uncomfortable. I am not sick and I should not have to wear one.”
“Prove to me they are 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 or I am not doing it.”
When I read these answers I see FEAR at every corner. Human beings tend to move onto selfish paths when motivated by fear. Fear moves us to a place where we see only our own needs and wants. I am sure many would tell me they are NOT AFRAIDand list all the reasons to the contrary. But fear can present itself as simply a dislike for being out of control. When it comes to COVID-19, there is very little for which we have control; that goes for both the virus and how the people in power are handling it.
My Mask Gives Me Some Control
In this chaotic world, my mask gives me some semblance of control. When I look around, I have no control over COVID-19, who gets sick, how sick they become, if they live or die, but I can wear a mask and do my part to keep people safe. It is not my job to decide if businesses are open or closed, if school is open or closed, how the economy will react from all the uncertainty of the pandemic; but I can wear my mask to do my part in slowing the spread of the virus. I have another choice as well, I can stay home. If I stay home, what does that do to our economy; to the small business owners around me who need my business? So I wear my mask and support the community at large. I choose to take control of what I can to improve the chaos. I am playing a small part in a much larger symphony.
As we move forward, I ask you look at your own motivation and reactions to the mask debate. Take a moment and really think about why you are making the choices you make. I challenge you to step out of the inner circle of your mind and put yourself in a place of looking to the greater good. We are all in this fight together. COVID-19 is the enemy. A decade from now when we look back on this pandemic, I want to say I did everything in my power to keep people safe, healthy, and moving in the direction of a brighter future.