Yesterday, my friend shared a post from the local paper on Facebook, detailing the anti-mask protests taking place in the city centre over the weekend, talking about her sadness at the fact that this was taking place. I couldn’t even get my words out articulately, I was so enraged – not with her, of course, but with those at the protest. So I shall try harder, here.
Here’s the thing. I support everyone’s right to their own opinion and I believe in freedom of speech. But I also, passionately, deeply, furiously, believe in compassion, and doing no harm.
I am not a doctor; I’m not clinically trained. I don’t have some magical knowledge as to when (or if) COVID-19 is going to go away, or expert insight into how it is transmitted, prevented, mutated. However, I do know that there are a lot of actual doctors and clinicians who are saying that they firmly believe that masks may very well help – and after all, they wear them for their work all day long, so I think they’ve got a better idea than I do. So I’ll go with that.
But more than that, and I find myself feeling more and more angry and more strongly about this all the time, I find myself coming back to this basic, rage-inducing point. I have a medical condition that means my immune function is shit. Repeated, chronic, life-threatening infections are my jam, so I know that I’m at risk. But more than that, I know that because I’m at a potentially higher risk of catching it, I’d then also potentially be at more risk of passing it on, so on the off-chance that I do pick something nasty up on my infrequent ventures out of the house, I will wear a mask, in an attempt to reduce my chances of passing it on. Do I like wearing one? No! A thousand times no – I hate it. But I would hate, even more, to be part of a preventable chain of infection that could lead to someone become seriously ill and possibly dying (including me). Do I look good in a mask? No. I have a fat face and I breathe heavily when anxious so I constantly look like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet (if you know, you know).
I just feel that this isn’t about masks. It’s about being a decent human being. If there’s the slightest chance that our actions could help someone, then I really genuinely feel that if we dare to count ourselves as halfway decent humans, those are the actions we should take. Even if it’s not guaranteed, even if it might not actually turn out to make the slightest bit of difference, at the end of the day, if there IS a tiny chance, I think it’s just our collective responsibility to take it. To try, for each other. Let’s just try. Who cares if your mask looks a bit shit? I regret to inform you that none of us look good in them. It’s not like we’ve got to get everything right first time or we’ve failed somehow (and this is something else I want to talk about, soon) – this just feels like a fear of looking stupid, a fear of losing…something. Losing what, though? Genuinely, what is it that people are fighting so hard against? Looking out for each other? It’s a grim thought. A grim one. Haven’t we gone through enough?