Scranton Column: Masking the obvious
Well, it is really cool that we have gotten back to some semblance of normalcy the past week.
Churches were allowed to partially reopen as well as restaurants, and most other businesses such as hair salons have been open even longer. Not to put a damper on the good news but partial reopenings are really kind of a weird mix of open but not really sure we want you here kind of feeling.
Masks and hand sanitizer are everywhere, but it just isn’t quite the same as just freely walking into a business and feeling welcome and appreciated. It’s not the fault of any business and they are required to make certain that they follow guidelines under threat of being shut down again. It’s a tightrope of playing by the rules and trying to establish a sense of normalcy.
What seems to be increasing in popularity is “maskism” around town and in our county with health experts telling us about studies that show the effectiveness of masks in stopping some of the spread of infectious germs. Even though other health experts insist that masks (especially the ones I see some of our locals wearing) don’t really do much of anything, there is one thing that masks definitely do: make you feel better about how much you care about others safety and health.
Some are required to wear masks because of requirements at work and that is a good thing because we all like to keep our jobs, and if a mask is part of the uniform these days, well, we better get used to it.
It’s kind of weird that most people I speak to know that masks don’t really do anything but they wear them anyway because it’s just easier and people won’t judge you too harshly. It’s like just going along with something for a while even though you know it may not be all that effective, but it’s what seems to make people feel safe for a time.
Others see masks as a tool of the state to impose the will of an overzealous government who wants to impose a brand of thought control over the citizenry. Ok, maybe it isn’t quite that conspiratorial, but masks do seem to bring out the worst in some people who insist that if you care about humanity, you’ll have one on wherever you go. It’s always easy to make these kinds of requirements in an atmosphere of uncertainty about virus spreading and death because it signals that you are trying to do something to stay safe.
Even though washing hands, staying home if you feel sick, maintaining manners, and being sensitive to social cues in public are the way we battled viruses historically, it just isn’t enough anymore.
The overarching idea that we can be safe if we just follow the experts recommendations hasn’t exactly unfolded the way most people thought it would over the past 8 weeks and we will all be looking back someday (I hope) and wonder about some of the crazy stuff we did and believed during the COVID-19 Scare of 2020.
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Just like you, I live with the fear of wildfire. My southern Oregon town of Ashland nestles against the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, whose forests become tinder in our hot, dry summers.