To mask or not to mask — that shouldn’t even be the question

It has always amused me how often humans barely value their own lives, let alone the lives of their fellow human beings. So it doesn’t much surprise me when I see people drowning in endless debate over whether or not to wear masks publicly.

I remember when I was a teenager, my cousin from U.S. had visited us in India and he was so amused that wearing seat-belts and having a child-seat was not enforced there. He felt a sense of freedom to not be bound to a car-seat or stuck in one place by a seat-belt. And believe me, I get it. I get wanting to be free (reminiscing over the rebellious teen-years of my past self). But wouldn’t it be extra nice to be free, and alive?

That incident must’ve been some 20 years back and yet, here we are, 20 years later and wearing a seat-belt is still not enforced in India. Of course, if you get caught not wearing a seat-belt in the front seat, you will be fined, but wearing a seat-belt is not enforced, just as wearing a helmet when riding a bike, is not enforced as strictly as it is in US or Canada. What is disturbing here though is how people knowingly, willingly risk their lives by not wearing a seat-belt or not wearing a helmet — rule, or no rule!

And so, when I see Twitter exploding over whether or not masks should be worn in public, it makes me extremely wary of the debates. Why should putting on a mask, that might save your life be such an inconvenience for anyone?

When we go to a bug-infested area, we carry bug spray, when going out in the sun, we put on sunscreen, when going hiking, we carry first-aid, so why not wear a mask if the health officials ask that of us, for our own safety?

City of Kansas in U.S. is enforcing a statewide mandate for all its residents to wear masks. Today, in Kingston, Ontario, Dr. Kieran Moore, the medical officer of health, has also issued an order requiring masks or face coverings while indoors at any public venues. Transport Canada had already made masks mandatory for its passengers, starting April itself. Counties of Wellington, Dufferin and the City of Guelph made masks mandatory at most businesses in June while starting July 1, Côte Saint-Luc in Montreal, is making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces.

With places opening up, and cases ramping up, it is becoming imperative that we follow the orders laid out by the public health officials of our communities, no matter the personal inconvenience it might cause us.

Now B.C. is moving to phase three, allowing non-essential travel however, if tomorrow Dr. Henry is to ask us to mask-up (you know, like suit-up!), I am hoping to find strong, law-abiding residents around me, following the order instead of debating over something that could prove to be a matter of life or death for our vulnerable few.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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