As the coronavirus pandemic worsens in the U.S., with infections topping four million and deaths galloping past 150,000, I continue to search for ways to rally my fellow Americans around the flag of simple prophylactic actions. Yes, Beavis and Butthead, I said “prophylactic,” as in preventative, protective, and precautionary.
The simplest of these, of course, is wearing a mask in public. If we know anything about the coronavirus at all, we know it is spread through coughing, sneezing, breathing, talking, laughing, singing and otherwise ejecting microdroplets of exhaled air through the mouth and nose. This can happen even when you don’t show symptoms of the disease—before you get sick, or even if you never actually become ill. This disease is an insidious silent invader that infects a significant (as yet unknown) proportion of its victims with mild or no symptoms, allowing it to spread quickly in a community that doesn’t take action. Only by insisting that everyone cover his or her mouth and nose can the spread of the disease be prevented.
|Who says a mask has to be dorky?|
But suppose you don’t particularly care about all that. Maybe you’re young and healthy and you're not afraid of no freaking virus! You’ve got important things to do. This coronavirus thing is a hoax anyway, the TV says so. A mask is hot and uncomfortable. It makes you look dorky. Besides, a mask can’t really keep you from getting the virus. You read that on Facebook.
When I hear arguments like this, I’m reminded of my days studying self-defense in the karate dojo. My sensei (teacher) used to say the First Rule of Self-Defense is Avoid the Situation. That is, it’s better to avoid a fight altogether than to be forced test your karate skills against an opponent who may have better skills than yours. So, don’t go out to your car in a deserted, unlit parking lot by yourself. Don’t leave the bar at 2:00 in the morning in an inebriated state. Don’t take the shortcut through the dark alley in a bad part of town. If someone challenges you to a fight outside the west entrance to the school at 3:00, go out the east entrance and go home.
Going without a mask in this time of plague is like taking a walk through a dark alley at midnight in a bad part of town. You don’t know who you might meet in that alley. He might be much bigger than you and have much better fighting skills. (Sensei used to say there is always someone out there with better fighting skills no matter how good you are.) Coronavirus strikes me as that kind of opponent. You might not meet him in that alley. You might be able to beat him. But chances are at least as good that you will lose—and lose badly.
Why take that chance? Wear a mask when you go to the grocery store or the hardware store or anywhere else you need to go. Get several in colors and designs you like so you don’t feel dorky. Keep one or two in your car so you don’t forget. Cover your mouth and nose. Be nice to the people who are tasked with enforcing mask rules—their lives are hell right now. Encourage your friends and family members to wear masks, too.
And while you’re at it, keep your distance and wash your hands. Those are rules we should have learned in kindergarten. No harm in being reminded of them now.
Cheers and stay well, Donna