To Mask or Not?

It’s taken me a while (longer than it should have, certainly; probably due to my advancing age), but I’ve realized something that makes it a little easier for me to understand the mask debate. 

The people who refuse to wear masks do so at least in part out of a desire for freedom. I wear a mask for that same reason. The difference lies in time frame and details, not in the core need that’s driving the decision. Refusal to mask up is based on freedom here and now, about being able to go about life without being jerked around by the at times confusing messages coming from those who are supposed to be leading us through this. My decision to mask up is based on freedom a year from now, about minimizing our short-term health risk and taking the economic hit that is necessary while the medical community works toward an effective treatment.

I believe that my position is the correct one and still disagree strongly with people who refuse to cooperate in what I see as a public health issue in the short term and a freedom issue in the long term, but it’s helpful to me to see that the same need is at the core of both sides. It works to keep me from dehumanizing those who disagree with me, and I think we could all use a little more of that, especially now. These are difficult times no matter which side we take. I’m an old retired guy with frail parents and a new grandchild, so it’s not difficult for me to choose where to stand. I don’t think that everyone’s decision is as clear-cut as mine.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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