Friday, July 10, 2020

In defense of the COVID mask

I wear a handgun to protect myself and others.

I wear a mask to do the same.

In both cases a little bit of insurance – lightweight, portable, and effective – goes a long way in keeping threats under control.

I will never understand those who are vehemently opposed to either means of defense for in my liberty based world view, you’re welcome to do what you want to do as long as you don’t infringe upon the rights of others. At the same time, you have to be prepared protect your rights – and those of others -- from those who don’t respect them.

What are these rights?

As the Declaration of Independence so succinctly put it, we are endowed with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Notice that first among those rights is life.


We have to protect life, ours and that of others in all forms – the unborn, children, men, women, black, white, the aged. They all matter.

Thus, it makes sense that we use the tools available to each of us as individuals.

Given that heavy and important responsibility for self and for others, why have masks become, like guns, a divisive political issue?

When you listen to the talking heads or navigate the wild world of social media it seems like conservatives are as dead set against mask usage as liberals are against private ownership of firearms.

It shouldn’t be that way.

If you wear a gun yet you find wearing a piece of cloth over your mouth and nose to potentially save someone’s life to be a hang-up you really need to reconsider how you perceive your obligations, written and unwritten, to others in all things you do.  

Consider why I wear a mask.

I wear a mask to protect myself. Given my physical condition I don’t expect to break a sweat if I get COVID. But, I also know that I’m no spring chicken. I’m middle aged. Anything can happen to a body that’s seen close to a half century on this earth.

I wear a mask to protect my family. My wife and I have a full house , with 4 children ages 1 to 8. Statistically, kids have been spared by coronavirus, but with twin toddlers only a year removed from arriving in this world 5 weeks early, there’s always a risk. Then, there’s my parents, in-laws, and our grandmothers to think about; we are blessed to still have them…why would I even chance bringing them something that takes them away from us prematurely?  

I wear a mask to protect my coworkers. My team deserves to come to a workplace that’s safe and healthy. We’ve been providing that for years with policies, procedures and controls for machinery and its usage, so it only makes sense to extend protections to the global health threat before us. I have 165 families to take care of, in so many ways, and a mask is a simple tool by which to do that.

I wear a mask to protect the community. I want my town, my world, and all those in it to flourish. As I go out and about in public I feel politely and naturally obligated to not spread COVID to workers and customers in the businesses I frequent and among the populations I serve. Do they or their partners have conditions that put them at risk, like diabetes, heart disease or cancer? Do they have immunocompromised children at home? Do they care for elderly loved ones? Are they pregnant? There are so many unanswered questions best served by simply donning some fabric.  

I wear a mask to protect the economy. If nearly-universal mask usage serves as a visual cue for policymakers to open all facets of our vast, inter-related economic engine, why wouldn’t I contribute that to the markets?

All that said, I wonder why there’s so much disdain for masks.

Is it because governments – local, state, and federal – have guidances in place about their usage?

Is it because businesses are telling you how to interact with them in their world?

Or is it because you don’t like the dirty looks you get when you take a cavalier approach to their use?

Realize those dirty looks are telling you something: Put a mask on. They did, in part, for you. You can for them.

If you value self-defense and defending others -- and ensuring the economy stays open and our kids can go back to school -- do your part, a simple part no less, to keep coronavirus at bay.

You actually can wear a mask and enjoy liberty, too.

From the 13 July 2020 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News

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