I don’t have clear conclusions on these matters I write about presently, but you may well detect which way I lean. Nevertheless, I am chewing on a couple items today that I don’t have worked out to my own satisfaction, and you are certainly welcome to jump in and give your thoughts here.
I saw a report THIS MORNING on the political divide regarding the wearing of masks. I embolden THIS MORNING because of the timing. The timing is (or initially was) my first order of concern with this issue. The timing. Let’s not forget that (at least for me) the timing was the major feature of interest here for me.
Because, you see, the wearing of masks is already a settled matter for me. I see it as a sign of respect, even LOVE, during this time of pandemic to play my part in this way. I see it as your part too, though I have long realized there is a political component developing on this, and though I don’t recall now if I wrote a post on that feature of it before, I am sure that political component came up for discussion with me on the blogs – and I think it came up on my blog specifically. And that was WEEKS AGO.
I am sure it was discussed. And that means I wasn’t the only one seeing it. There were others. We have people who refuse the scientific evidence, refuse to show care for others and thus put us all at added risk, for the sake of their political persuasions. They want FREEDOM, and see this as a controlling mechanism which interferes with that.
But I and others saw THAT feature weeks ago. And it only became a news item (at least on the channels I get news through) just today.
On the one hand, that makes me feel rather insightful. I saw this for what it was BEFORE some media outlet told me to think it. On the other hand, it seems my news outlet is majoring in olds, not news. Perhaps they were busy verifying their sources and reports before just shooting off propaganda.
The timing matters to me.
Now, BEFORE I heard this news featured by the professionals in the media, I was already thinking about mask vis-à-vis cigarette smoking. Cigarettes are still sold and smoked in America today, but the market has all but tanked. And it was a smoldering battle to get rid of cigarettes over the course of most of my life.
I am not sure when the last ad for cigarettes aired on TV in America, but I am sure they were still quite popular when I was a kid. Even I was a smoker for a few years. But I remember my dad hating public space filled with cigarette smoke from the time I was in Kindergarten. He always complained it gave him a headache, and he was raised by smokers; he would know.
I recall as a kid entering buildings where occasionally you might find a sign that said, “Thank you for NOT smoking.” Those were actually rare. I remember when smoking was allowed on airline flights! I recall waiting rooms in doctors’ offices, hospitals, government agencies, mechanics garages, practically any and everywhere, and the ash trays set out for smokers. I recall books of matches with advertisements on them for motels and night clubs. Shoot, BARBER SHOPS!!! I recall drivers in traffic flicking cigarette butts out of windows frequently.
I recall how eventually we would enter restaurants where the greeter would ask whether we preferred smoking or nonsmoking. I recall how my dad always noted that the nonsmoking section was beyond the smoking section, requiring that we walk through the smoke to get to the sanctuary. I recall my other grandmother complaining that the nonsmoking sections were always infiltrated by the smoke from the smoking sections.
When I was a young adult and took up smoking briefly, the constraints were beginning to get a lot more serious. By that time there was not smoking on airplanes; many (if not most) restaurants prohibited it outright. The hospital had a smoking area outside and no one smoked inside AT ALL. And not only that, but I remember a couple of occasions when I with my cigarette in a designated smoking area suffered withering comment from passersby who disapproved.
But I digress.
Let me jump ahead. I was no longer smoking when I attended college, but I recall a Sociology course I took on Social Deviance and a lecture we heard once on how smoking in our society moved from being so popular to being all but outlawed, and in some places practically that too. The theory was that once the campaign to limit or end smoking latched on to the message about how “second hand smoke” causes illness or death in nonsmokers who are around smokers, then their right to life and liberty was infringed upon in ways that began to change American minds and attitudes toward cigarettes. (Well, that and a couple of well-executed law suits.)
This is where my thoughts have gravitated surrounding the issues of masks during a pandemic. The inconvenience is rather small, actually. The price too much? No. The fashion just that bad? No. The irritation just not worth grandma’s life? No, not that either.
Look it’s a pandemic. It is not a permanent way of life. That is a matter for vaccines.
Ohhh…. Yeah… This all has bearing on vaccines too, huh?
And that is ANOTHER issue that has been dividing us up in recent years. Do you really want some government agency injecting some microscopic substance in your body? Sounds terrible, no?
Of course it does.
But I was vaccinated all my life, as were all my friends and family for two generations before me, and only recently has there been any complaints. In fact whole horrible diseases have been all but eradicated by these invasions of my freedoms. All without complaint until very recently, and those complaints have gone unfounded.
But I must concur, there is a risk in getting vaccinated. IF some government had bad intentions OR some pharmaceutical company accidentally mixed a bad batch, I could be harmed by the vaccine. That is true.
Suddenly, I am talking cost/benefit analyses.
But back to today’s report. Remember that? Remember how I started all this saying that at first the main issue for me was the TIMING of it? Yeah, that one.
Well, the report featured some expert the media people drummed up who has been giving this mask wearing divide a lot of thought too. In his analysis, he likened it to the “no shirt/no shoes… no service” signs at the local café. He talked about the imposition of those rules on restaurants that have been with us for generations, yet no one ever mounted anything like a successful refutation of them.
Sounds right to me. And at first, I thought, actually that just shows we do a LOT of things like this, and have been doing a LOT of things like this for generations. All the upheaval is something new, something foreign. But the acceptance of these kinds of things is old, not new at all. And Americans have not historically worried about losing precious FREEDOM over them.
But then it dawned on me.
Those “no shirt/no shoes…” signs were an innovation too. I wasn’t around at the time, but I have studied on it a bit. Before the “no shirt/no shoes” signs, restaurants and other businesses used to have signs that read, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” (Actually, I have seen that sign posted in a couple of places during my lifetime.) But the signs that innovation replaced, of an era much regressed today, said things like “Whites Only” or “Colored use the back door” and so forth.
Now talk to me about FREEDOM inhibited.
I wish I could TRUST my fellow Americans to LOVE one another enough to look out for each other’s best interests. If my smoking puts you at risk, then I should probably either quit or at least do it at home. If my coughing or speaking/singing loudly puts you at risk, perhaps I should stay at home as much as possible and/or wear a mask when around you as much as possible. Especially considering that pandemic is not here to stay…
….unless of course half the people in the world insist on not getting vaccinated next.
Just a thought.