Lupus

Getting Closer To Myself: Wear A Damn Mask

I’m
putting this out there because it needs to be said. I can see that as a chronically
ill person and someone who is #HighRiskCovid19, as the world opens up, mine
will be getting smaller. I’m seeing pictures of people on Facebook unmasked in
bars and crowds. I guess even going to some peoples’ houses will be off limits
because of the number of places they’ve been and the number of people they’ve
been around, unmasked.

Just
remember, this isn’t about you. I wear a mask for myself, but I also wear it
because I would never want to be that person that is unknowingly sick and gets
someone else sick. I care enough about other people to wear a damn mask. I read
something that said if you are refusing to wear a mask and you think Black
Lives Matter, think again, since COVID is hitting Black communities worse than
many other groups. So if you really think Black Lives Matter, show it by
wearing a mask.
I know that
America is built on the ideal of individualism. And clearly, this ideal may
lead to the downfall of America. Rather than think of wearing a mask as a
threat to your own freedom, why don’t you think of it as a sign of solidarity
and respect to wear a mask? I’m not telling anyone how to live their life, but
I’m telling you how I’m going to be living mine. Because rather than go to the
bar or eat in a restaurant, all I want to do is see my family and close
friends. My sister is moving to another state and I’ve barely gotten to spend
any time with her in the last three months due to COVID and that absolutely
sucks. I think you’ll survive some missed nights out at the bar. I’ll never get
back missed time with the people I love, and given what happened to my dad, I
know how precious time is.
So for
now, I guess my trips to the grocery store every other week will continue to be
my main mode of excitement for the foreseeable future. And if I get invited
somewhere, it’s likely my declinations will become more frequent. With chronic
illness, it’s always a possibility that I’ll have to decline invitations and
cancel plans at the last minute, but as much of a pain as that was, it was on
my terms. It’s because I didn’t feel well or was in too much pain to partake in
an activity. Now, I will be doing this for reasons external to me. I will being
doing it because a friendly invitation will be sidetracked by concerns over
where you’ve been or who you’ve been in contact with because you’ve established
a pattern of behavior that proves who and what you care about, and it’s clearly
not me or anyone else.
I’ve seen
a lot on social media of people with Cystic Fibrosis posting pictures wearing
masks and a pulse ox, and showing that their oxygen levels are fine, so yours
should be too. I’ve also seen the fake card that was created by people trying
to exploit the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by claiming they have
medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. If that’s true, don’t
wear a mask, but if you’re making stuff up, wear a mask. It’s that simple.
Wearing a
mask could mean the difference between quarantine ending and life slowly
returning to whatever the post-COVID “new normal” will be. Not wearing a mask
could mean continued, unfettered spread, another round or multiple rounds of
full lock down, and more deaths. 
If you’re
not wearing a mask simply because you don’t feel like it, or you think rules don’t
matter for you, or you feel that wearing a mask is an affront to your freedom
of expression, remember this moment. Remember when you were called on to do
something for someone else and instead you put your own needs above everyone
else’s. Remember when you decided that a night at the bar was more important
than the lives of anyone you may come into contact with. Remember that thinking
you don’t have to wear a mask because I will is inherently ableist. And
remember that not wearing a mask flies in the face of Black Lives Matter.  
In a nod
to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, maybe you couldn’t “Fix The Damn Roads,”
but maybe everyone can learn to “Wear A Damn Mask.”

(And I
know someone will say that I was unmasked in the picture I posted on Facebook
with my husband wearing our Jews For Black Lives shirts. True. But I was
outside and the only other person there, who took the picture, was my
brother-in-law. We took our masks off, more than six feet away from him, he
took the picture, and we put our masks back on.)


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