Advocacy & News

Choose Compassion, Wear A Mask

If you can understand the universally-held science — and good manners — behind covering your mouth when you cough, then you can understand how wearing a mask in public, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, is an act of commonsense goodwill that could, potentially, save someone’s life.

In the United States, there is a growing, very vocal group that refuses to wear a mask during this pandemic. Reasons for this can vary from being convinced it’s a hoax, to believing the outbreak has been exaggerated, to holding the position that Constitutional freedoms are being taken away — with many other reasons in-between.

I’m not here to persuade anyone to wear a mask if they don’t want to, because if overwhelming, global, scientific and medical research cannot convince them to do so, then I don’t know how to explain to them why they should care about being a part of something that could help prevent other people’s suffering.

I will, however, explain why I wear one and quietly hope that what I share may just be enough to change an anti-maskers mind …

choose compassion, wear a mask 1
photo by Nathan Dumlao

The virus that causes COVID-19 is still new and emergent. We are given information about how best to defend ourselves against it by world-renowned epidemiologists, scientists, and medical professionals. They are continuously studying and reviewing their knowledge as they learn more about it. Early information from the CDC initially stated that masks were not effective in combating Coronavirus spread, but after more research and data proved this understanding to be incorrect, the recommendations were updated to include clear, specific guidance that wearing masks — or other acceptable face coverings — help slow the spread and reduce instances of COVID-19 occurring.

What may have finally convinced the CDC to change its guidance in favor of masks were rising disease prevalence and a clearer understanding that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission are possible – even common. Studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets. | USCF – Still Confused About Masks? Here’s The Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus

Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and the leading epidemiologist here in the USA wasn’t lying to the American public or being bad at his job when he amended his judgement to include mask-wearing for the general public as an appropriate measure in fighting COVID-19, he was giving us the most recent intelligence that his expertise could produce. Expecting someone to be 100% correct all of the time while navigating an ongoing, constantly evolving situation is not only unrealistic, it’s ridiculous. It wasn’t a nefarious trick to dupe us or a sign of failure, he was providing facts based on the best information he had at the time, in an effort to save people’s health and halt a growing number of deaths.

If people feel that being mandated to wear a mask in public spaces is an affront or removal of their freedoms, then I’m not going to disagree with them. Being inconvenienced or having to adapt where or how you work, shop, eat, socialize, etc is a restriction on your personal autonomy, but it’s not being done to permanently oppress. Mask wearing is a temporary social ideal that looks to protect the integrity of the health and lives of ALL people. In a country where healthcare is not a right — because equality of access and affordability to it are neither universal nor guaranteed — it is imperative that we act with the greatest kindness and care we can.

Nothing about COVID-19 has been easy, simple, comfortable, or normal, but humans are incredibly resilient and adaptive. We can thrive when we create a new normal. We can achieve remarkable things — so why can’t mitigating impact, and potentially helping those around us avoid a terrible disease be one of them?

When confronted with exasperation, name-calling, suspicion, outright anger, and protestations against wearing a facial covering, my answer will always be the same … I have the right to choose compassion.

choose compassion, wear a mask 2
photo by Talia

I’ve been fighting tirelessly since September 13th 2019 to do everything I can, with the limited power I have, to help my husband battle Stage 4 cancer. I won’t do anything that may jeopardize his survival or contribute to his pain — which includes risking my wellbeing and ability to care for him. I want to protect him with everything I have because he deserves that and the world is definitely a better place with him in it. I could never forgive myself if I gave him COVID-19 just as I would never be able to reconcile any part I played in giving it to anybody else.

Recently, I’ve noticed many discussions around medical exemptions — which do not mean that businesses with mandatory mask-wearing policies have to allow you in while everyone else covers their face. Exemptions mean that reasonable accommodations are required to assist you. Things like online ordering, delivery, curbside pick-up, store associates being able to shop for you while you wait, or being able to call the store and get your needs taken care of should be readily available and on offer, etc. Every establishment that is open to the public should listen to your needs and look for ways they can support accessibility — that I will defend wholeheartedly because genuine medical exemption undoubtedly makes living during a pandemic much more challenging. However, if someone is pretending to have a medical, physical or mental health issue just to prove some political point or get out of wearing a mask then they are taking valuable time and resources away from those who actually need it. This is an affront to how we should be caring for one another and all proven instances of this deceptive virtue signalling should be dealt with seriously.

I’m aware of the incredibly privileged position that being able to wear a mask without any obstacles beyond temporary discomfort and annoyance puts me in, so I urge all those in similar circumstances to mask up and help stop the spread of COVID-19. And although it’s not the same condition, I’ve learned since my husband’s cancer diagnosis that it takes a hell of a lot of people all working together to combat a horrible disease. I know, when everyone joins together to improve the chances of better health outcomes, that it does make a difference. I’ve seen it.

Further Information:

How To Help Others in the COVID-19 Crisis | PBS

18 Sustainable Brands Making Face Masks for Social Distancing | The Good Trade

How To Make An Eco-Friendly DIY Face Mask At Home (no sewing version included) | Green Citizen

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22 thoughts on “Choose Compassion, Wear A Mask”

  1. This was an awesome read, thank you for sharing! I agree that masks need to be worn to save lives & just show that we care about other people, you never know who might be high risk!
    Sending prayers your way!


  2. I do not understand the sentiment here that it is a God-given right to potentially make other people sick?! I wear a mask on the rare occasion I go out. If I don’t want to wear a mask I just stay home.


  3. This was a lovely and honest read – sending kind thoughts to you and your husband. I have a mask and do wear it in some situations, although admittedly not everyday.

    However, I think as a society we do need to consider the ease at which wearing masks would put those around us too.


  4. I completely agree with you! I get it, people don’t want their “freedom” stripped away, but in a way – in my personal opinion – they’re using that as an excuse of “don’t tell me what to do” If people thought more about other high-risk people they could potentially be harming versus themselves, maybe they would be more considerate. Thanks for sharing!


    1. So true — I get that there is a level of restriction involved in wearing a mask, but if the choice is that you protect vulnerable people then I don’t understand why that doesn’t make everyone who is able to do so mask up!


  5. Great post and I completely agree! Wearing a mask is a small inconvenience that I’d choose everyday over having more people get ill or even die due to COVID. People need to stop looking at wearing masks as political statement and instead view as a sign of compassion, which it is.


  6. This is really well written. I can’t even describe the shades of red that I see over these people who think we’re all wearing masks out of fear and control. We’re not scared, damnit, we just have any sense of human compassion and decency! Thank you for saying this so much more eloquently than I can.


  7. Great post! In the UK it’s only becoming mandatory to wear masks in shops this Friday which is mad to me. What’s even weirder is how so many people still aren’t wearing masks this week. Just because it isn’t mandatory until Friday doesn’t mean that the virus has disappeared until then. It’s crazy! x


    1. It is something I am saddened by, the fact that people are so against wearing a mask to help others. I had assumed that Britain would be much more reasonable about it than here in the U.S. but it seems that isn’t the case at all. I do hope people get on board with it and realize the good they are doing!


  8. Great post! I absolutely agree with you! Wearing a mask costs us nothing. Even if someone does not believe it can prevent the spread of the virus, it gives others peace of mind. That alone makes it a small price to pay. Thank you for sharing this.
    My thoughts and prayers go to you and your husband during this difficult time.


    1. Thank you! I just wish more people would care enough about others to wear a mask and socially distance so we can make every effort to do something about this virus and keep those who would be devastated by it if they caught it safe. Thanks for reading!


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