If there was a vaccine that lowered the risk of contracting Covid-19 by 65%, wouldn’t everyone be lining up to get it? Well, the vaccine does exist, and it is called a mask, but it seems that many in the U.S. are hesitant and even against wearing one.
The coronavirus has already taken more than 189,000 lives in the United States alone, more than any other country in the world. People of all ages and backgrounds have contracted the disease, while remaining most prevalent in older people and communities of color. There has been a significant loss of jobs, a great negative impact on mental health and wellbeing, a spike in sexual violence, and a never-ending list of heartbreaking stories from those who have lost loved ones from the disease. Yet, despite all of this, there are still constantly stories of people protesting against masks, with the politicization of masks making its way through headlines.
Jake Juliano, a junior at Green Level high school, says, “I believe that some people refuse to wear masks because of the self-righteous American culture that strongly advocates for freedom of the individual.” in which he is completely correct, as one huge argument against a mandate for masks is, that personal civil liberties are being violated, some even declaring they are free to die if they want by protesting with the saying, “My Body, My Choice”, ironically taken from the liberal pro-choice movement. But this argument is flawed, because it is not only your body you are putting at risk when you choose not to wear a mask, you are putting every single person who comes within your vicinity at risk. Juliano puts it best, “While civil liberties such as freedom of expression are wonderful attributes of a society, so are empathy and compassion. I don’t believe that these people lack these traits, but rather that they usually put their own personal wants and needs above those of other people; in this case, human life is unfortunately their trade off for personal comfort.”
It has been frustrating to stay at home to see people throwing parties without masks or a care. It has been lonely being isolated from friends, to see social media posts of peers posing on a beach packed with mask-less people. It has been hard to remain cool, unable to visit my grandma in China, with a junior year experience taken away from me, while people protest in groups of hundreds against something that will keep us all safe. Something that could have let me see my grandma and friends, and let me properly go through junior year, if it had been used properly.
So wear a mask, there is nothing political here, simply lives to save. Show some compassion, show some humanity, let us live.