column hed

COLUMN: Sense of connection lost on anti-maskers

Like it or not, all 7.8 billion of us are linked through the air we breathe

A quick show of hands, anyone who has managed over the past several months to break themselves of the habit of touching their face 800 times a day. Yeah, me neither.

Add it to the list of things that we must learn to do differently during a global pandemic.

For example, trying not to leave home without at least two clean masks and a mickey of hand sanitizer in my purse.

As rude and un-Canadian as it makes me feel, I tend not to hold the door for strangers these days.

And I try not to look too uncomfortable when someone holds a door for me, forcing me into that six-foot perimeter we’ve been told to avoid. There are many good friends I haven’t seen face-to-face in months. Dining in a restaurant? No thanks, I’ll stick to take-out for now.

And when I go out in public, I wear a mask.

Do I like it? Not really.

Am I a sucker? What about everyone else who is making a concerted effort every day to help protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19?

Are we sheep who’ve been duped into trading away our personal freedoms in return for a false sense of security?

I don’t think so.

Why don’t we ask my friend who lost her uncle to the disease last spring? She shared the news on Facebook a few days ago, while posting a story written by a Washington state woman whose mother died after contracting coronavirus.

The writer’s plea to readers to stay home as much as possible and to cover their face when out in public is the same request we’ve been hearing for some time now.

In B.C. it’s less a request than an order and yet for a select few, it continues to fall on deaf (or, should I say, defiant) ears.

Every time I read or watch a story on the news about someone throwing a tantrum inside another person’s place of business, screaming about how their rights are being violated, I’m forced to wonder what makes that person feel so exceptional that a government mandate somehow doesn’t apply to them.

Perhaps this sense of disconnectedness comes, in part, from not personally knowing anyone who has become gravely ill or died as a result of COVID-19?

That might be a bit generous, based on some of the scenes we’ve watched unfold in recent days. In truth, all signs point to plain, old-fashioned narcissism

But if this pandemic has taught us anything it is certainly that we – all 7.8 billion of us – are connected at the most fundamental level – through the air we breathe to simply exist

Consider that this virus took root one year ago in a single human being. Today, through the spread of airborne droplets, every single person on the planet is, or has been, put at some degree of risk. For some, contracting COVID-19 will amount to no more than a sore throat, but for others, it’s a death sentence.

Knowing this, why wouldn’t we all do everything that has even an outside chance of helping to stop or slow its spread? Especially something as simple as wearing a bit of cloth over our nose and mouth when we’re out in public. I’m not talking about people with a medical condition or who for one reason or another can simply not wear a mask. But I suspect these are not the people who insist on making a scene.

No, masks are not a panacea. They’re simply one more tool in a very small set that we’ve been asked to employ – along with washing our hands and keeping our human contacts limited – to help keep ourselves and our neighbours safe from an invisible, but potentially deadly, foe.

It would be good to think that as the winter progresses and people continue to get sick – and possibly die – in exponentially higher numbers, a few of these anti-maskers might stop screaming about their rights long enough to give a moment’s thought to the responsibility that comes with being part of a larger community.

It would be nice if that happened, but I’m not holding my breath.

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux. (Contributed photos)
BC NDP ‘chose to create a system of chaos’ by holding back COVID-19 data: Cadieux

South Surrey MLAs criticize provincial government after BCCDC documents leak

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

Surrey woman a face of World Ovarian Cancer Day campaign in London, New York

‘It’s so important we find better treatments,’ Catherine Eiswerth says

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

Ocean Athletics’ Roy Jiang – a senior at Southridge School – will study, run track and play clarinet at the California Institute of Technology beginning this fall. (Gordon Kalisch/Fast Track Sports Photography)
‘Triple-threat’ Southridge School student runs toward CalTech

Roy Jiang will compete on track team, play in the university’s symphony and study bioengineering

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read