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Hate that mask? Consider the alternative

Charles Moore, Community Voices • Jul 7, 2020 at 9:00 AM

This virus-induced lockdown has been tough on everyone, I’m sure. You have my sympathies. I don’t think of myself as more or less social than anyone else in the world. I like to eat out, too. I like the free concerts and the fun in the streets, just like anyone else.

But I most of all like being free from illness, generally. I’m getting old so “illness” is not always definable. I do not enjoy being in the hospital nor being forced to remain in my own home. However, doing those things that keep me from the hospital and staying well are the best options. Being virus free is the best option.

The joke goes that the man visits the doctor on his birthday each year and complains that he’s getting older. The doc tells him to consider the alternative. That’s my approach.

I have done my part, I hope, at being careful. I feel when I go to the grocery (once a week in the early morning) I have to suit up with mask, gel, and a baggie of sanitized wipes. I also feel a bit odd putting my mask on, until I notice who else is also wearing theirs. Then I begin to feel better. I think this social/peer pressure to not mask is more powerful than I thought and I have to wonder how it affects a person’s attitude in face of the science and numbers. I am amazed at how many men, who probably know better, don’t mask up. It’s like a dare or a role on their part. I don’t wish anyone harm but I also don’t wish anyone being that stubborn to get close to me.Humans are sociable. It may not seem like that at times when the news is constantly bombarding us with riots and yelling protesters and politicians lying through their teeth and the general unsettling of the world. Most of us would prefer a quiet world that at the moment, it seems, is coming apart at the seams. Yet, we still want to meet and greet. We all have acquired friends over the years and we want to know and empathize with them and they with us. We want to wish them well to their (masked) faces. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in parts of the country where normally right thinking people crush together as a mob, demanding vague rights to public property like a beach.

It is also true that when protest evolves into riot, the rules for safety generally go out the window. Waves of people, some scared, some not, clash and glob together, but when you are getting tear-gassed it’s too late to worry about whether or not your bandana mask is sufficient. From what I see, the peaceful protesters are aware of their image as potential agents of COVID-19 and attempt to behave accordingly. Whereas the rioters come prepared for a fight and the longer your baton the less your problem of catching something other than a rubber bullet.

For myself, I tend to want to avoid any group when I can’t be in control of my own safety. That would be the same for sports, meetings, funerals, or restaurants. I’ll eat elsewhere or go home. Because I have two feet and a car, why should I risk acquiring a problem by allowing peer pressure to dictate my movements?

What is hard for many people, of course, is being out of work. Been there. Done that. A billion dollar trust fund wasn’t enough to stem the forecasted needs? But, for someone out of work it must seem like a long, lonely future ahead of them. Time for a few more changes, perhaps?

For an old guy like me (charter member of the East Tennessee Chapter of Curmudgeons of America) I also see a lot of pent up energy that will not be refocused on doing what we did before the pandemic arrived. History seems to suggest that such times as these leave behind seeds of a newer world. Don’t confuse that with a masked world, but imagine a place where fundamental change sprouts. The resistance to such change, in whatever form it is, will fight hard and moan and groan and use its current powers to slow the earth’s spin. That strategy hasn’t been worked yet.

Just how much and how far and how this new normal, this new world will play out I have no idea. I’d like to stick around long enough to compare notes. Gotta wear that mask!