Wearing a mask during the COVID pandemic is a sacrifice. Some are willing to make it and others are not. Many who refuse to wear face coverings say they are exercising their personal freedom – their ability to make choices without taking anyone else into consideration; their right to choose what is important to themselves, regardless of what authorities say is necessary for the greater good; and their right to disregard what scientists have told us about how the virus spreads.
Those who choose to wear masks for their protection and the safety of those around them, often do so at significant personal sacrifice.
For instance, those who are severely hearing disabled and who rely on lip reading to understand another’s speech, cannot do so when masks are covering lips. Therefore, they are at a disadvantage in social gatherings. They haven’t a clue what others are saying. They are aptly described as “out of it.”
Those who wear eyeglasses are also at a disadvantage. Their glasses steam up, especially outdoors in the winter cold. The seeing-impaired are constantly adjusting their masks to minimize steaming. Many have chosen not to wear glasses outside at all. I am among those, and the outdoor world is now a constant blur to me. I don’t recognize neighbors when I meet them on the street and have to rely on the sound of voices to identify approaching figures. I can’t see what my dog is sniffing, and I miss seeing colorful sunsets clearly. I admit blurred vision has a certain charm – occasionally.
Those with breathing difficulties also make sacrifices by wearing masks. They are continually short of breath. I don’t have this problem, but several of my friends who have asthma, COPD or congestive heart failure are struggling with this sacrifice.
For these three groups, the inconvenience of wearing masks is prolonged by those who refuse to do so. The duration of the COVID pandemic will be determined, in part, by how carefully and sacrificially we observe the CDC’s public health recommendations: wear a mask, stay six feet apart, don’t gather indoors in groups of any size for extended periods of time, and wash your hands frequently.
Which will it be for you? Personal freedom? Or personal sacrifice?