My daughter’s friend—I’ll call her Amanda—never wears a mask anywhere. When the clerk standing outside our local grocery store distributing free masks and hand sanitizer asks if she’d like a mask, Amanda smiles and says “No, thank you.” If he asks, “Are you sure?” she nods and says, “I don’t have to wear a mask. I suffer from CS.”
The clerk then says, “I’m sorry,” and waves her inside the store.
CS carries a dire tone, sounding like some congenital ailment of the lungs or heart, or some affliction derived from asbestos or smoking.
For Amanda, CS stands for “Common Sense.”
I laughed when I heard this story, but then got to thinking: Why is it I have so detested masks ever since the first day the governor mandated them here in Virginia? If masks protect others, shouldn’t I be happy to cover my nose and mouth? When I’m in my Honda Civic, I practice defensive driving; I don’t tailgate, I double check my rearview mirror before changing lanes, and if another driver behaves rudely or foolishly, I try to keep my cool.
So why am I having such difficulty showing people similar courtesies when it comes to wearing a mask?
My reasons, from least to most important, are the following:
Comfort. The masks I wear irritate my cheeks and chin and also stifle my breathing. After spending just 15 minutes masked in the grocery store I begin feeling like a caged animal as I pull and tug at the corners, seeking air and relief from discomfort.
Glasses. Wearing a mask fogs up my glasses, in turn demonstrating that the mask is not working, my breath is escaping around the corners.
This time last year, and for three years before that, I visited our public library several times a week, where I would browse the books before settling down to a couple hours of writing. The library offered seating galore, including a vestibule with five tables where I could eat lunch and sip my coffee while working.
Masks have put an end to those prolonged stays. The library staff is strict about this mask business, they even removed the tables from the vestibule because some patrons were removing their masks to talk with friends. Besides, typing with befogged glasses is a misery I’ve decided to avoid. Today I go to the library to find a particular book or two, then I check out and go home.
Ineffective protection. Physicians and scientists have argued about whether masks even work. The thousands who signed the Great Barrington Declaration, including prominent epidemiologists, argue against lockdowns and for herd immunity instead, encouraging the healthy and the young to resume their normal lives.
Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed.
Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume.”
Though the signers make no mention of masks, we can assume by their use of “normally” that they are not fans.
Dehumanization. Masks reduce our ability to read the thoughts and emotions of others. They hide a part of our personality and our individuality.
The attack on individual responsibility. By issuing edicts rather than guidelines, governors are treating their constituents like children. Because so many of us fear COVID-19, in part thanks to the constant drumbeat from mainstream media, we have let them get away with this ploy. How is it that any governor has the power to issue such directives for such an extended period of time?
The attack on liberty and the advent of totalitarian directives. The Biden team has already promised a nationwide mandate on mask wearing and possibly severe lockdowns on businesses and schools. After eight months and counting of this pandemic, some of our governors and mayors have conditioned us to obedience, so odds are many Americans will comply with a new batch of edicts.
Which brings some questions: Suppose in an effort to control global warming our federal government ordered gas rationing, with thermostats lowered in all public places during the winter and raised in the summer? Suppose the government laid down a moratorium on travel, ostensibly in the interest of saving fuel? Suppose a COVID-19 vaccine was developed, as seems to have finally happened, and our rulers ordered everyone to take that vaccine, punishing those who refused via a facsimile of China’s social credit system, limiting nonconformists’ ability to travel, serve in the armed forces, or attend certain schools?
What would we do then?
Maybe it’s time we all developed a good case of CS.
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.