Bridging the Divided

The Masking Controversy…..

Masking in public. There are a lot of controversies surrounding it. Personally, I think if masking in public would have been mandatory with consequences at the beginning of this whole crisis we may not be in the health and economic mess we are in. Just my opinion, a hindsight commentary. 

It’s really not a lot to ask of people when out in public, in stores, or attending events. We have been wearing masks and are appalled at the number of people who have chosen not to, especially after states began opening. Yes, I said chosen, and I know many people believe masking is a right we get to chose or ignore at will but is it?

Under the Constitution of the United States, we are granted certain rights. We learned them in school, one being the right to speak our minds when we believe our rights have been violated. But, under which of the rights afforded us in the Constitution does the right to refuse to mask fall? The eighth amendment; prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment? I don’t think it fits the intent of the right. How about freedom of expression? Article 10 protects our freedom of expression, however, we have the duty to behave responsibly, and to respect the rights of others. But, public officials can restrict this right if they can show that their action is lawful and necessary to protect public safety. (Equality and Human Rights Commission) Isn’t masking about public safety?

What about safety? Can’t we be ‘poisoned’ by carbon dioxide levels rising in our bloodstreams because we wear masks? In a word, no. Another of the misleading and false Facebook posts I have encountered fueling arguments against public masking. For a few masking may indeed be dangerous. There are segments of the population that should not mask, like those with moderate to severe breathing disorders, small children under the age of two, and anyone who cannot remove their masks at will. 

So, why should we mask? The COVID-19 virus has been somewhat unpredictable, and we are still learning how it affects humans. We know there are many people walking around who do not have symptoms but are infected. They are asymptomatic, without symptoms. We also know people shed the virus, in other words, are contagious before they develop symptoms. Two very good reasons why we need to mask in public until a vaccine is available or enough people have been infected herd immunity takes over. 

Masking does little to protect the wearer, masking protects others in case we are the one infected and are not yet aware. We may have a right to refuse to mask in public as our public health leaders advise, however, do we have a right to be irresponsible where fellow man is concerned? Most of us follow speed limits and posted signs for the safety of others, don’t we? What happens when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel of a car and neglects speed limits and stop signs? People are injured, or worse.

The lives we are protecting by masking in public will be those who cannot mask because of severe respiratory disorders, or the elderly, people whose immune systems are compromised due to cancer treatments or dialysis, children with life-threatening diseases and disorders, and babies, to name a few. Choosing to mask in public tells others, “I care about you”, “you are important”. My mother is elderly and has a severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), my brother does, too, and chooses to work as a nurse in the hospital caring for the needs of others, friends have new babies or grandbabies, my father-in-law is on dialysis, my mother-in-law has Type 1 diabetes, and one of my daughters and I have asthma. We mask in public, not to protect ourselves, but to protect others in case we are infected and are not yet aware. It may be my right not to mask, but it is also my responsibility to do the right thing to protect you…..

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