To mask or not to mask, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the… Those are not precisely Willies words, but then again, COVID-19 was not a thing 450 years ago. William Shakespeare soliloquies aside, this has become a polarizing issue in today’s world. And I am never one to shy away from a good verbal match of tennis. Given what comes down to such a small thing, it pains me to see the shouting match that has ensued. By the way, if you can answer chants, shouting a refrain at the top of your lungs, then the odds are good you do not have a breathing problem. So, precisely what sort of obstacle do you have?
When I was a young’un, those silly old seatbelts were a highly contentious issue. According to a popular notion wearing them or not was, at times, a matter of personal choice and, at other times, an infringement on one’s rights. In the mid-fifties, some auto manufacturers began offering seat belts as an option. At the time, they were installed on bout three percent of new cars. Not exactly a glowing endorsement on a unique safety feature. But autos got faster, and fatalities grew, and a percentage of folks saw the value in that life-saving device. It was not until the late eighties before it became mandatory to wear a belt in Alberta. Ontario was the first province in Canada to make the wearing of belts mandatory in January of 1976. Wearing that simple device is now compulsory in all regions. Alberta incidentally was one of the last holdouts. I guess we needed legislation to tell us that flying through a windshield during an auto accident is an “infringement” of healthcare systems.
The legal drinking age in all areas of Canada is eighteen or nineteen years. As a person who started drinking at fourteen, I submit that I was too young to drink until I was at least twenty-one. The age of maturity is always going to be a contentious issue. As long as we keep moving the proverbial goalposts, it will be controversial and confusing.
The point in bringing up these two issues is this: Wearing a seat belt was a highly volatile issue in its day. The minimum drinking age was just as contentious and remains so to this day. Most people accept both of those rules. The exception on the latter would be people like me, and I can assure you that if you drink early, often, and to excess, it will likely end badly. Rules and laws that were once suggestions save lives. Masks will save lives, and if you wear one, the life you may be saving is not necessarily your own. COVID-19 is also a highly contentious issue. We do not have the luxury of time to debate the use of masks, let alone legislating a solution. Health authorities are asking us to take that leap of faith. Wearing a mask is such a simple task. It is not an infringement of our rights. It is a potential gift to somebody’s son, daughter, or grandparent.
The name attached to this disease was initially the novel coronavirus. It was initially discovered in twenty nineteen; it is not novel (new) anymore. If you are trying to keep track, it seems like ten years ago, but it has been less than six months. If you ask Kellyanne Conway, the nineteen means it is the nineteenth strain of COVID. This virus is unique and baffling even to those in the medical profession. Therefore, much like seatbelt laws and drinking ages, tweaking is inevitable. When it comes to COVID-19, our healthcare professionals ,are learning as they go. Just because officials are continually finding new ways to fight an elusive foe does not mean that messages are “mixed.” It just means that the information pool has expanded and, like it or not, the suggestions have to be tweaked.”
Some feel that enforcing a bylaw .Making masks mandatory in enclosed spaces is somehow infringing on your rights. I knew that please and thank you are two words that most Canadians learn shortly after learning to say, Mom and Dad. I believe that “suggestion” should be added to that list. The folks who devote their lives to keeping us physically and mentally well are telling us that we can flatten that curve with minimal effort. So, I “suggest” you put on a mask; you may even “save a senior.”
We often hear that we follow those recommendations for those close and those we may not even know. Just as often, we listen to the many sad excuses for not wearing one. One of my favorites is when the person insists that he or she is not wearing a face-covering because the authorities are flip-flopping on the benefits of one. They said there were no benefits; then, they told us that the payoffs were minimal. Finally, they said that since we were opening slowly, everyone should wear a mask: No flip-flopping, just a steady increase in priority. As a bit of an aside. On a US channel, an angry crowd ,was confronting a mask less woman in a grocery store. She was yelling at the top of her lungs that she could not wear a mask because she had breathing troubles. I had to laugh because I was left wondering how bad her breathing troubles could be with a set of lungs like hers.
What does happen if we choose to ignore all or even some of the precaution’s health authorities suggest? If things continue in the direction they seem to be going, someone may write a country song about our impending dilemma. In a typical country song, the dog passes away, the horse runs away and so on. In the “COVID version,” the businesses re-shutter, unemployment increases steadily, everyone must shelter in place. I am sure you get the message. Wash your hands, keep a respectable distance, wear a mask for the sake of others. Do these simple things, and the curve bends in our favor, the alternative really sucks.