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What Does it Truly Mean to Wear a Mask?

Updated: Aug 11



Throughout this pandemic, I have become absolutely sure of one thing: there is much more to wearing a mask than placing a piece of fabric across your face.

COVID-19 has taught me a lot about character and moral values in a way that I never thought I would. It has put me in a situation where I have learned about myself, my counterparts, society, and the kinds of sacrifices people are willing to make for safety.

One thing I realized was that we, as people, care so much! Well, most of us. We understand why we need to wear masks, and understand why it is necessary to follow the guidelines we are gifted. Personally, that’s why it makes me shocked and angry to see groups of random teens roaming around in stores without masks because I know that they are displaying disrespect for not only the people around them, but all those who serve us. But then I remember that there are lots of us who are respectful of and thankful for our country’s courageous and determined frontline workers. It makes me happy to know that there are people who will make personal sacrifices because they understand what common good means.

All these everyday people have plenty of wonderful characteristics that deserve to be acknowledged. So, this is for them. This is for you. The following is for everyone who wears a mask, even if they don’t feel like it.

You are appreciated for your:

kind·ness

/ˈkīn(d)nəs/

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noun

  1. the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.


It takes a lot of effort to place aside your personal wishes and look at things from a larger perspective. The consideration you put in for everyone around you--even if you’ve never met them and won’t ever meet them again--is relieving. It shows that you might not know the doctors at the hospital nearby, the cashiers at Wegmans, or the customers at Target, but you are still willing to be kind to them.

You have an incredible amount of:


en·dur·ance

/inˈd(y)o͝orəns,enˈd(y)o͝orəns/

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noun

  1. the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.


You know what? This situation is not easy, in fact, it’s one of the most challenging situations that most of us have been in for a really long time. But to go out and keep striving--to keep fighting and doing what you can safely--is wonderful. We don’t give ourselves enough recognition for doing those small things like wearing a mask on a steaming hot summer day, or posting the positive effects of being six feet apart on Instagram. And we should, because even if we aren’t on the frontlines, we are doing something significant and displaying how much we can endure as a society.


You are helping to provide a sense of:


u·ni·ty

/ˈyo͞onədē/

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noun

  1. the state of being united or joined as a whole.


Like Sharpay Evans, Gabriella Montez, and all the other students in High School Musical sing, “We’re all in this together!” And each one of you is a real-life representation of that idea. Wearing a mask along with others demonstrates that you are aware of and included in an act more than yourself. Since there is such a marvelous abundance of people who wear masks, we have all become part of this grander image and final goal. Let’s be proud of the fact that we have come to unite!


You express a great deal of:


com·pas·sion

/kəmˈpaSHən/

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noun

  1. sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.


Although we may not post videos online of ourselves pouring our hearts out and bawling for others because we just can’t sit on our couch anymore and watch the oh-so-heartbreaking segments of people dying on CNN, it’s obvious we feel the gravity of the COVID-19 situation and have empathy for the hard workers we see. Most of us have developed a deep care for the workers we’ve witnessed, whether they are small business owners in Damascus or scientists around the world trying to find a vaccine for the public. Our concern has helped us create tons of helpful efforts! We have groups that volunteer to make masks for free (like The Makana Project), high school clubs that find innovative ways to support healthcare workers emotionally and physically, and average websites that give us a hand by providing lists of the correct organizations to donate to. Why? Because we’re compassionate.


By the way, if you want to send a sweet note to some frontline workers, click this link: https://forms.gle/FEm5jt63dvefCnp2A


You display a tremendous amount of:


re·spect

/rəˈspekt/

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noun

  1. a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

  2. due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.


There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing people love and genuinely care for each other. It’s something that I’m grateful for noticing so often nowadays. Sometimes I miss it though, and that’s because some people don’t realize how much not wearing a mask can affect others besides themselves. I bet you’ve watched protesters on the street say things to newscasters like, “If I get sick then I get sick, that’s on me, but it’s my decision!” Indeed, it is their decision, but if they get sick they will not only be subject to pain and discomfort, but they are a danger to everyone. If they are diagnosed with this virus, they pose a risk to everybody they came into contact within the past couple of days. They pose a risk to everybody that they will inevitably have to come in contact with. They will pose a risk to the healthcare workers that may have to take care of them. They will pose a risk to the families of these workers, and so forth. So by doing the opposite of them, and wearing a mask, you are protecting and ultimately respecting people’s health and their wishes to be safe. That itself creates a powerful ripple effect where more people are influenced and encouraged to follow community and state guidelines. So, thank you to the moon and back for showing invaluable respect.

You have a deep understanding of:


re·spon·si·bil·i·ty

/rəˌspänsəˈbilədē/

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noun

  1. a moral obligation to behave correctly toward or in respect of. ex. "individuals have a responsibility to control personal behavior"


Although there is no law written in stone declaring that each and every one of us must wear a mask, it’s obvious that in order to get out of this crisis we need to follow what the medical experts say--and guess what they say? That we need to wear a mask. Unfortunately, we don’t have a national mask mandate, which gives people the wrong idea: that it’s fine to break loose and make exceptions for themselves when it’s clearly not. Wearing a mask is one of those things you just do! There is no rule demanding that people be courteous and amiable, but it’s not like we are mean to everyone we interact with! That would be considered extremely impolite. We know better than acting out like that! Similarly, it’s only ethical that we play our part and wear a mask in order to collaborate, cooperate, and control this pandemic together. By being responsible, you are saving lives and acknowledging the ones that were lost due to ignorance and inaction.


In a funny way, you are pushing:


e·qual·i·ty

/əˈkwälədē/

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noun

  1. the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

You may be confused by what I mean. You might be thinking: What? At a time like this? How are we pushing equality by wearing a mask? Isn’t that a stretch? Well, here’s a little explanation of my mindset. Regardless of who you are, the chance that you live in a place where masks are required is high. In other words, it doesn’t matter what your race, sexuality, gender, wealth, and age is, because those are irrelevant when it comes to wearing a mask! If you go to a store like Target, you’ll notice that pretty much everyone will be following the cautionary guidelines--there are no exceptions. In society we may be divided by our differences and stereotyped for our cultures, but we are all human beings at the end of the day. We should accept, embrace, and recognize our differences and use that to make us feel more equal, not less. We ALL wear masks because ALL of us are susceptible to the virus and have the ability to spread it. In a way, by wearing a mask, you are proving to the world that we’re not all that different, we’re all equal.


So give yourself a big pat on the back for being kind, enduring, compassionate, respectful, and responsible and for promoting unity as well as equality. You deserve it! And if you haven’t been wearing a mask, you can always start fresh tomorrow and make a huge difference by being safe. If you are in need of a mask or know an organization in need of some, go to this website: https://www.themakanaproject.org/! Thanks for all the good you guys do! Keep fighting!



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