It is extremely disheartening when I read the comment section on social media any time COVID-19 is discussed. It hurts to see people who just don’t believe that this virus is real, that people do not trust their own eyes or local or national news. Even more alarming are comments of fanatical doomsday fear-mongering such as the QAnon belief that the vaccines have microchips in them that will be used to track everyone’s movements . Such lies only work people into a panic and exacerbate the problem instead of offering a sound solution. It has to stop.
I realize that in times of crisis, everyone struggles to make sense of the situation due to fear of the unknown. It’s normal to seek answers when you see how everyone is suffering, and you feel helpless. Many people look to God for all the answers when we don’t have them ourselves.
What isn’t normal is to deny all sense of logic and reasoning just when it is needed most. This is exactly why so many people have become infected and so many have died. I know you’re angry. I know you’re scared. And I know that some of you don’t want to believe what the news is telling you about the virus because it’s horrible, tragic and gut-wrenching.
Trust me, that’s how many of us feel every single day. There’s so much contradictory information out there that is especially confusing in a post-truth world. It helps me to take a step back and focus on the bigger issue. I may not be able to change the minds of everyone, but if I can reach out to some, then I’ve done what I can.
Tyranny or Compassion?
I don’t understand how or why wearing masks is seen as tyranny—the willingness to wear a mask is compassionate. It is looking out for our neighbors and those whom we love. Wearing masks help to lower transmission if by chance we do become sick. Wearing masks keeps doctors and nurses from being completely overwhelmed and hospital resources from being tapped out. If we all cooperated, wearing masks could keep more people from dying before their time. This is a death that can be avoided if we are all willing to work together.
Something that isn’t focused on enough is what’s known as “long Covid.” Many people are struggling for months after they have had the virus whether it was a mild case or more severe. I know because I am still struggling. Headaches, brain fog, irritability, chronic fatigue, and depression are all documented as residual effects. We don’t fully know the reasons yet for these after-effects, but I can tell you that it’s an awful and exhausting experience.
Not only does wearing a mask help to at least lower the transmission rates, but wearing masks actually keeps us free. It keeps our country from having to lock down while other countries have entered into a second one. We are at a critical point where if we keep serving our own self-interest—our perceived “civil liberties”—over valuing the lives of others, we may not have a choice.
Think about all the people who have been laid off from their jobs. Think about all the people who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat and all the people who have had to leave the workforce for good. Think about all the children who cannot go to school to get that vital in-person learning experience and socialize with their friends. Think about the single parents who are essential workers who have to work every day, cannot afford child care, meaning that a grandparent or other relative is home watching the child.
Think about all the factory line workers who work in close proximity to each other and ship out our PPE, sanitizer, cleaners and other goods that keep us healthy. Think about all of the doctors, nurses, scientists and other health-care workers who work tirelessly 24/7 to save our lives while not being able to hug or kiss their families for fear of exposing them.
Protect the Health of Others
I bet you see these people on the street every day without even realizing it, and that’s the scary thing. That’s what makes this virus so concerning. You don’t know who may have it or who may not because no two people react to it the same exact way. You simply don’t know who these people you encounter on a daily basis have at home that could be at the highest risk. Sometimes it really helps to take things into perspective and look beyond our narrow views and beliefs. While we always like to defend our inalienable rights, I believe the right to be healthy and protect the health of others is one to be cherished.
I’ve seen posts from men who say wearing masks emasculates them. No doubt, there are right-wing articles out there telling you as much. But consider this, do you think a brain surgeon feels emasculated when he steps into the operating room? Or a male heart surgeon? Or do you think he feels empowered with a great sense of responsibility?
These brilliant doctors are the ones who literally have our lives in their hands. And if these men can suck it up, having a piece of material over their noses and mouths for 12-plus hours a day, seven days a week to save our lives, then so can you. People who can put aside their perceived “manliness” to protect the health of others are showing how much they care and how much they are willing to sacrifice for those they love. That’s attractive.
I know that this is a scary time, but we must keep our wits about us, learn to value the lives of others above our own and accept that there are just some things we will never understand; But we can, and will, get through this if we all work together.
COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapy
To be clear, vaccines have been around for decades and have not and will not genetically modify our DNA, but they will help to keep us healthy if we choose to get one. I would also recommend counseling with a qualified professional as well. I’m not saying this to demean anyone in any way. I’m speaking from experience. I started going down the QAnon rabbit hole over the summer, but fortunately I caught my spiral in time. Too many others have completely alienated themselves from their loved ones, and the families are at a loss as to how to get through to them.
It’s not our job to prophesy the future. I believe that is up to God and God alone. Our job is to be kinder, more compassionate and look out for our fellow man, regardless of faith, ethnicity or political affiliation.
Christians believe that is the reason Jesus died for us—so we can learn how to be more Christ-like, and share His humility, empathy, compassion and selflessness with the world. If there is a lesson He wants us to learn here, I believe this is the one. It is a test of character. Let’s not let His sacrifice be in vain.
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and factcheck information to [email protected]. We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.