My junk food these days are chocolate chip cookies.
And not just any chocolate chip cookies.
They need to be the ones that are baked specifically for 7-Eleven meaning they lack whatever addictive that allows most store bought cookies to have a shelf life that would impress the original Manhattan Project scientists.
To get my daily dose of junk food I make four or five trips a week to the 7-Eleven at East Yosemite and Powers avenues.
For most of August it was rare to go into the store and not see someone wearing a face mask respecting the signage asking you to do so.
About a week ago that started to change. Now it seems at least half of the costumers are eschewing face masks. There have been times when there are six people in the store and the only ones wearing a face mask are the clerk and me. The most ironic visit was Tuesday when there were a half a dozen other customers in the store and the only one of them wearing a mask was a homeless man.
I do not live in mortal fear of getting COVID-19. That’s not to say I think I’m invincible. I’m far from it.
I get that I’m 64. I’m healthy but I also get that otherwise healthy people have become seriously ill and died from the coronavirus.
I hear people loud and clear that dismiss masks because it accords them minimal if any protection and that it is not an absolute surefire way to stop the spread of COVID-19 although it slows it down and reduces exposure to people who are carrying the virus and will never get sick but can spread it.
So why should I — or anyone else that doesn’t live in fear of getting COVID-19 — comply with face mask rules?
Three things drive my compliance:
*A moral obligation as a member of a civilized society to look out for those who are vulnerable.
*A desire not to drive those we have chosen by majority rule to run our society as governors and such to be forced into corners and make decisions to shut down sectors of our economy and restrict what we can do in everyday life.
Let’s expand on self-preservation first.
I wear a seat belt every time I’m in a car. I’ve been in two fairly serious accidents and I’m not 100 percent sure that my using seat belts prevented serious injuries but at the same time I did not get seriously injured. After realizing what could have happened I don’t need the threat of a ticket to convince me to always buckle up.
I also wear a helmet when I bicycle. While seat belts are the law for everyone, wearing a helmet bicycling as an adult is not. It’s more like “guidance”. Yet if you ask me it should be the law. I credit helmets that gave their all on four different occasions for me not being dead or having serious permanent injuries. My helmet cracking experiences happened when I was moving at a good clip outside of urbanized areas but I always wear my helmet.
A friend that cycled more than me, used to scoff at me for wearing a helmet on a short in-town jaunt. That changed the day he hit a crack in a street just right heading a few blocks to the store and went down like a sack of potatoes. His concussion kept him off work for two weeks.
As for whether face masks are lawful orders, if it is what the powers that be are using to determine whether my neighbor can go to work and support his family I have no problem falling the rule.
Let’s not kid ourselves. There are those among us that blatantly ignore red lights and stop signs and more than a few of us who never saw a legally posted speed limit that we didn’t exceed. Those are all laws in place to protect the health and safety of everyone. The moral dilemma with mask wearing is in the same league. The only difference is with speeding and running stop signs we’re not blowing up social media saying the government has no right to tell us not to run red lights and then going out and running every red light with deliberate reckless disregard of others.
The moral obligation to look out for the more vulnerable is often not as clear cut as you think as there are always mitigating circumstances popping up. Would it be wise, for example, to bring a homeless half-starved and drug-crazed meth addict into your home?
But wearing a face mask to protect others that are vulnerable isn’t much different than refraining from breaking the law regarding handicapped parking.
There are those rationalizing it does no harm to park illegally in a handicapped zone because they will only be there for a “minute” without giving any thought to the strong possibility that during that “minute” a handicapped person with heart or breathing issues was forced to park further away.
Making a decision to wear a mask is not as scary as having to decide to jump into a raging river to save a complete stranger when you know you do not have strong swimming skills. Instead it is easy as complying with the law and not parking in a blue zone.
I will give no argument to those that point correctly that government leaders of all political persuasions as well as the epidemiologists themselves have made statements and assumptions that have days, weeks, or months later been proven wrong due to the fluidity of the pandemic
COVID-19 was not — and to a large degree still isn’t — a known enemy. Decisions have and are being made on what could be characterized as “on the fly.”
A number of those decisions have turned out to be dubious at best.
But if you hold onto the belief COVID-19 is a kissing cousin of the flu, then you should have no problem accepting face masks and social distancing as both are practices proven to reduce the spread of flu.