Mask call for respect for others


It has long been clear that masks are more than just face coverings. They are a flashpoint in the culture war, with those on one side seeing them as a symbol of a social obligation to protect our fellow citizens and ourselves and those on the other side seeing them as symbols of government oppression, a violation of individual freedom and “God-given” rights. I just see them as a symbol of common sense.

After forgoing our annual two-month ski trip to the Berkshires last season, we decided, despite omicron’s push, to risk it this year. Non-skiers cannot imagine how joyful it is to descend the sides of beautiful mountains surrounded by a wonderland of ice-encrusted trees that sparkle like thousands of huge diamond brooches. How peaceful it is to discover the vastness of the wild nature in the midst of a silence that is broken only by the breath of the wind blowing past the helmets and the creaking of skis on the icy snow.

A bonus was the added pleasure of reuniting with old friends who we could ride the lifts with in fresh, clean air without fear of infection. It was the greatest socialization we’ve had in a long time, the first time in two years that we felt fully alive, connected and anxiety-free.

We strictly respected the conditions that we had imposed on ourselves before the trip. This meant avoiding crowded public spaces. We limited time indoors to the sparsely busy locker room where we changed in and out of our boots, the supermarket we visited early on Sunday mornings when it was devoid of customers, and a sparsely populated wine store with a mask policy. We sacrificed valuable ski days on weekends and holidays when the mountain is always crowded. The rest of the time, we settled in splendid isolation in our rental apartment where we prepared each meal, without ever setting foot in a restaurant. More importantly, when we are inevitably indoors, we are always, always masked.

As the surge seemed to subside, people became more cavalier about precautions. Even those of our merry band found themselves at the bar after skiing. But we limited our après-ski to a few outdoor lunches with them. It’s understandable that people feel overwhelmed with restrictions. U.S. too. We miss dining out, going to the theater and joining friends at their homes, but we intend to adhere to precautions as long as reality and common sense require. The sad reality is that just as, once again, the government and the CDC approve of our guards being let down, a new push is building in Europe and likely, driven by the annual spring break madness, will cross the pond just as boosters lose their protective benefit. Although COVID is far from over, it has ceased to be the only reason we intend to continue masking and some of the other precautions we have taken during its unwelcome stay.

Interestingly, after all these months we got used to masks. We don’t like wearing them, but unlike some right-wing guys, we don’t feel like we’re being arrested and transported to the gas chambers when we put them on. From our point of view, the insistence on individual rights, when exercised without regard for the welfare of others, becomes its own form of tyranny, even anarchy, and the mark of a selfish personality. , even downright antisocial. More so, a sign of temerity.

We have come to understand why many people in other countries routinely masked up in public long before COVID arrived. Over time we used masks, we had no sniffles. This contrasts with two of the half-dozen ski trips we took after moving south, which were cut short by severe respiratory infections despite having been vaccinated against the flu.

It is likely that we will resume some of the activities we avoided during the pandemic once it really passes. Whenever it does. But we intend to avoid crowded indoor gatherings and continue to use masks when we need to be indoors with the general public for some time to come. Maybe definitely.

Certainly, some people will look askance at us for this, perhaps even be angry and reprimand us, but we hope that others, when asked the question: “Who was this masked man, from anyway ?” will answer: “Who knows? But he must certainly be a smart man.

Norman Dovberg is a former Capital Region resident who now lives in Virginia.


Comments are closed.