In 2013 I went to Japan for one of my best friend’s weddings. I figured that, since I was travelling 14 hours across the world, I might as well spend some time there, and I ended up exploring Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto for three weeks.
I wrote about my adventures in a piece called “Harajuku Heartbreak: Notes and Observations on Traveling Through Japan” and right now I can’t help but think back on one of the most prescient reflections:
The social contract in Japan is far different than ours. They are so much more community-minded. For example, when you see people wearing doctor’s masks in public, it’s not because they don’t want to get sick, it’s because they don’t want to get YOU sick. Just think about that for a second. In the U.S., we’re like, “Ya, I’m sick. Too bad if you get sick too.” We could learn a lot from the Japanese when it comes to looking out for each other and our community.
I’ve never been so bummed out about being right in my life.
At this moment COVID-19 is ravaging the United States like, well…a disease during a pandemic, and it’s all because a bunch of whiny, selfish, disillusioned, wannabe “patriots” refuse to wear masks. Part of the reason for this is because 30+ years of Fox News has created a large swath of the populace who believes: Science isn’t real, affordable health care isn’t for everyone and “personal freedom” is more important than the greater good. The failure of the Trump administration to act like grownups and handle this thing like they actually give a damn about Americans can’t be stressed enough, but that’s an entirely different article. Right now, I’d like to break things down for the people who continue to insist that the economy be ruined and hundreds of thousands of people die, just because they don’t want to be very minorly inconvenienced.
Quite simply put, not wearing a mask makes you a bad person. It doesn’t make you a patriot. It doesn’t make you an independent thinker. It isn’t you totally showing those “libtards.” It just means that you genuinely don’t care about anyone other than yourself. Let me explain.
First off, the science is incredibly damning. It has been proven repeatedly by scientists and health care professionals that wearing a mask stops you from spreading the disease, which is especially important since many people who have it are asymptomatic. But for those of you who really only care about yourselves, I’ve got good news: The Los Angeles Times reported recently that masks offer much more protection against coronavirus than we previously thought.
The Washington Post helped put this in perspective earlier this week when they explained that the populations of Britain, Germany, Japan, and South Korea are roughly the equivalent of the United States. Collectively those countries had 1,205 confirmed new cases of COVID on Sunday, whereas the U.S. had 58,349 on that same day. This terrifyingly vast chasm is due to people in the U.S. disregarding masks, social distancing, testing and contact tracing.
But enough about facts, since, if you’re an anti-masker you obviously don’t care about pesky things like that. Let’s talk about your feelings instead.
If you genuinely care about being a patriot, then how could you not wear a mask? Patriotism is about being willing to make sacrifices for something greater than yourself.
If you’re an “All Lives Matter” person, how is not wearing a mask doing anything to protect any lives at all?
If you believe that wearing a mask is bad for you, why do surgeons wear them during surgery and why do special ops soldiers wear them on missions?
Even if there’s just a 5 percent chance that masks work, isn’t that enough for you to be mildly inconvenienced?
It takes so little to be part of the solution to this cataclysm right now. No one is asking you to hide Jews in your attic or escaped slaves in your basement. You don’t have to sit in a trench for months or parachute behind enemy lines. You don’t have to strike for fair labor practices or fight to integrate schools. You just have to wear a damn mask. That’s all you have to do to save hundreds of thousands of lives and businesses. You can do it and still wear sweatpants.
So please, wear your damn mask so we can get things back to normal-ish soon.
Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.