People have many reasons for refusing to wear a mask during this pandemic. Concerns about health, civil liberty violations, and political leanings are just a few. None, however, is justification for opposing mask mandates.

Health concerns, of course, are legitimate. For example, certain individuals with sensory processing disorders may find wearing a mask intolerable. Children under two years of age can’t wear a mask, obviously, and pulmonary patients might find breathing difficult in a mask. Barring these health issues, there is (in my opinion), no viable reason for vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals to refuse to wear a mask.

Do mask mandates violate civil liberties? Mask mandates utilize the coercive power of the state to require an individual to do something he or she would not ordinarily do; individual liberty is compromised by this interference. Requiring people to wear a mask is technically a violation of personal freedom. However, there are situations in which the communal good supersedes personal liberty. You may rightfully counter that the “greater good” more often than not benefits only those in power, but during hardships, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, that argument is moot. Consider this: if I have a contagious illness, and I am asked not to attend an event, my exclusion from the event violates my civil liberty, my right to participate, to go where I want to go. But refusing me admittance protects all attendees from contagion; thus, in this case, my civil liberties are secondary to what is good for the community. More simply put, though my personal liberty is encroached upon if I am asked to wear a mask when I don’t want to, wearing the mask hurts no-one, but rejecting the mask could potentially harm another if I am carrying a virus. During this pandemic, then, for the greater good and health of all, personal liberty should be sacrificed. As they say, I wear a mask for you; you wear a mask for me.

Politics is absolutely not a reason to refuse to wear a mask. Political affiliation, admiration for former President Donald Trump or current President Joe Biden or lack thereof, has no place in the mask debate. If you distrust Anthony Fauci, listen to any number of other infectious disease experts and research the findings of scientific studies in other countries. There’s a civil liberty to exercise – the right to be informed, to know the truth, to arm oneself with knowledge and act accordingly. Follow the science, not the individual.

Lastly, a mask might temporarily impede your conversation skills, but it will not interfere with your communication with the Almighty, no matter what any televangelist claims. Televangelist Jim Baker tweeted, “How can you go to church and pray when you’re wearing a mask? Do you think God can hear your prayers through a mask?” Such conjecture reveals an immature level of reasoning. Put plainly, it’s downright stupid, and it reveals how we are slipping backward into nonsense. God doesn’t need your words; He only needs your heart.

The world needs your heart, too. All of the above is my opinion, and it is presented here as food for thought, not as an invitation to debate. I am vaccinated, and I wear a mask to protect you from me, and to protect myself from you. I could not live with myself if I in any way harmed another human being. If I carry Covid, if I become the reason you, or a little child, becomes ill, and the means with which to prevent such a thing from happening had been presented to me, and I rejected it, it would be the most egregious, unforgiveable transgression of my life. I urge you to think with your heart. Do not become entangled in debate and personal attacks. Be respectful. Be caring. Look out for one another.

To mask or not to mask. That shouldn’t be the question. The question should be, how can we safeguard one another?

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Anne Mikolay

Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...