To Mask or Not to Mask

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Shown above is a lesson I try to learn everyday. Along with a related quote about how you can’t control what goes on around but you can control your attitude to what happens. Probably didn’t get that quote exactly right but you get the gist. And another thing about trying to really see where others are coming from and not just shutting them down or off. Yes, these threads will come together along with some other thoughts about our arrogance. Feeling very introspective and philosophical today.

And it all started with a Facebook rant by my brother. I guess there was a guy behind him at the grocery store not wearing a mask and with a t-shirt stating something about no masks/no fear. Anyway, it just set my brother off. Of course, lots of people agreed with his thoughts which just reinforces his opinion that he’s right and that guy was wrong.

Which got me to thinking about how you could have so much faith that a simple piece of cloth would really save us from this particular virus. The reality is that the science is sort of mixed. People like to compare countries but that is flawed because there are so many other variables at play that you can’t assume a single thing explains the difference. But I think it comes down to a couple of schools of thought.

If you believe the “experts”, then you certainly believe that masks are essential and those who aren’t wearing them are putting everyone at risk. There is certainly some truth to this but, unless someone is openly sneezing and coughing, we really don’t have a good idea of what the level of risk is.

If you believe that the government is lying to you, then you would be like the guy with the t-shirt. I do think some of these people go too far. Yes, this hasn’t proven to be Spanish Flu 2.0 but it is also not an ordinary flu.

My own opinion is that the “experts” are really just making best guesses based on what they think they know. Since I’m skeptical, I don’t take statements at face value. I’m the guy who goes to try and read the studies that are cited and then draw my own conclusion.

But it is also easy to see why the people in the first group (like my brother) are going to have more visceral reactions and are more prone to getting angry. If you truly believe masks are the tool that is going to save us, then anyone not wearing one is the enemy. They are the selfish types thinking only of themselves and keeping us trapped in this endless cycle of new cases.

And that makes it all the harder to really have a conversation with them. Again, if your belief system has already been formed that says masks are the solution, then no amount of data is likely to change your mind. Which is why I just stay out of it.

I’m also going to blame politics for a lot of this. If you are the type who has a true hatred of a particular politician, then it is almost a knee jerk reaction to disagree with whatever they say.

But I’ll also say I feel a little sorry for him. Because when you allow others to control your happiness, you are highly likely to just stay angry. People are going to do and say things that differ from your worldview. If you are confident in your beliefs, you should be able to listen without anger. Something we all need to work on.

I’ll speculate a little bit here but I think a lot of the frustration also comes from a place of human arrogance. I mean we are supposed to be the smartest things on this planet. How can a brainless virus defeat the best minds of science. Which may be why people desperately want to believe the scientific experts. Because we have to be smarter than a virus!

I think the fatal flaw there is that is kind of assumes we live above the world – like we are immune to the forces of nature. And that is so not true. We may not be as fragile as certain lifeforms but our so called advanced minds can’t save us from all that is out there. A virus is going to virus.

You see that in places that enforced severe lock downs and are now seeing second waves (Australia). You see it in countries that didn’t participate at first and knew it was coming but haven’t been able to stop the spread. The only places that had success were islands that could really keep people out and clamp down on the people who did have it. But have they really beaten it or just delayed the inevitable. I mean how long can you stay isolated from the world.

It is also why I’m not overly optimistic about a vaccine. I read and hear a lot from people who are just waiting for a vaccine as the ticket to getting back to normal. Again because we have to be smarter than a virus. We have to be able to beat this? We have all the science. Maybe but maybe not. A virus has just one goal which is to survive long enough to reproduce. That’s a force that is a bit hard to fight. But maybe we’ll get lucky.

On the other hand, we also have the same survival instinct built into us. The immune system exists so that we don’t get eliminated by a virus. Humans have survived far worse plagues without the aide of advanced science and vaccines.

Which is why we’ll get through this. I suspect some version of this will be around for awhile but I suspect it isn’t going to hit as hard as it did back in April. Until then, the best we can do is take appropriate precautions. Its a grind. There’s no doubt about that. If you immerse yourself in the flood of doom and gloom then it is far too easy to become angry, fearful and depressed. Which is really the worst thing you can do.

We can’t let our happiness depend on others. Tough lesson but it has to be learned over and over again.

4 comments

  1. I don’t let others control my happiness. I don’t give a damn what other people think of me, because what other people think of me is none of my business. What is my business is how they treat me, and if there is a chance that wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of a disease that could freaking kill me, then anybody not wearing a mask is gambling with my life and that is not an acceptable way to treat me. This is not an issue of politics, it is an issue of basic courtesy and human decency. If there is a chance that me wearing a mask can help save someone else’s life, I have enough courtesy and human decency to wear a mask to potentially protect other people’s lives. If I can wear a mask, at work, outdoors, in the Texas heat and humidity, with COPD that makes it hard to breathe without the mask, then anybody is capable of showing a little courtesy and wearing a mask on the off chance that it could protect others.
    I’ll hop down off my soapbox now🤪

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