I’m in a foul mood today. Just feeling really over this whole damn situation.
I had a bad dream around 3 or so this morning. I can’t remember it, but I couldn’t get back to sleep for a while. Then I woke up to what seems like an ongoing barrage of bullshit.
So I need to vent.
First, face masks …
I was chatting with this fella online. Good guy. Reasonable. Pretty thoughtful individual. He was saying how face masks should be a choice, and I could see his argument up to a point.
(For the record, I can also see the argument for face masks being required in public, but also only up to a point. There are people for whom wearing a mask is unsafe. There are also people for whom wearing a mask is the only option. It’s a complicated issue, which a lot of people hate. If it’s not a black or white issue, Americans tend to want to get reductionist and turn it into one.)
This guy pointed out to me that there are people who suffer from PTSD, and wearing a face mask can bring up past trauma, creating mental health issues. Plus, he said, shouldn’t I know, as someone who works with the autistic population, that some people have sensory issues, and wearing face masks isn’t possible for them?
To address those points, I brought up a traditional event that creates issues around PTSD and individuals with sensory issues every summer, but no one really seems to care about that. The Fourth of July. I know of folks who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and have to go out of their way to avoid fireworks because of the trauma the explosions and flashes of light bring up for them. And as for those dealing with sensory issues, Independence Day celebrations create similar issues.
Yeah, he said, but that’s just one day. Can’t they make an exception?
Hmmm … ok. Sure. Let’s go with the assumption that “just one day” can be sacrificed on behalf of everyone else. What about the sound of tractor trailer engine brakes? I had a client enter a period of physical aggression on the sidewalk one day because a semi went by and let one rip. It scared the hell out of this client, and things escalated quickly for us.
Well maybe that person shouldn’t be out on the sidewalks then, this guy says.
Uh huh. Interesting take. Well, what about hunting season? I went to college with someone who really struggles with the sound of gunfire, even off in the distance. This person lives out in the country and has to spend weekends away from home to keep her mental health in check.
This dude said it sounded like that person has it figured out. No need for people not to hunt on account of something like that anyway.
Oh. Well let’s switch things up. What about someone not dealing with PTSD or sensory issues? What about someone like my mom, who has MS? Shouldn’t she have the ability – the right, even – to go shopping without the fear of encountering someone not wearing a mask, possibly contracting coronavirus from an asymptomatic shopper or worker?
If she knows it’s a possibility, she shouldn’t go, he said.
What it came down to for this guy was not wanting to put a mask on. Point after point, it was about what others could or should do to change their own behavior so he wouldn’t have to change his.
I think we have, as a country, lost the sense of what it means to really sacrifice something for the greater good. It really doesn’t get much easier than putting on a face mask, right? But apparently it’s the most difficult thing in the world for some people to do.
Like I said, it’s a complicated issue, but don’t fight someone else’s battles unless you really mean it. Otherwise, it’s just a convenient excuse so you don’t have to do something you don’t want to.
On another note, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott spoke today about an incident that happened in the state earlier this week. Rather than sum it up, I’ll share his statement:
We know we can’t let our guard down while fighting this virus, but we also can’t ease up on our commitment to civility and unity, either. I bring this up because on Monday, I was made aware of a disturbing incident here in Vermont.
I learned of a family in Hartford – who had New York plates on their car, even though they became Vermonters a few months ago – who were pulling out of their driveway when, among other things, were told they weren’t welcome here.
Sadly, this happened in front of their 11-year-old child.
I want to be VERY clear: I have no tolerance for this kind of thing and it’s unacceptable. It does not represent my views or who we are as a state.
While we have travel restrictions to protect public health, when I announced this guidance, I said explicitly we cannot let this become an ‘us versus them’ situation. I want to make sure everyone hears that. We can be both neighborly and compassionate, while staying safe.
Making this situation in Hartford even more disturbing was the racial undertone used during the exchange with the individual, who is a person of color. So, let me be very clear: This IS NOT acceptable and can’t be tolerated. There is NO excuse for it.
Here’s the bottom line: Concerns about this virus CANNOT be used as an excuse for hate, bigotry, or division – of any type – for any reason.
This virus knows no border and it doesn’t discriminate.
We’re all in this together, and human decency will help get us through this challenging time. Let’s remember, our common enemy is the virus, not each other. And we should use every ounce of energy to defeat it.
Two things on this.
First, this sucks. Undeniably and thoroughly. Totally inexcusable.
Second, this is a terrible thing to happen anywhere, but there’s already this atmosphere of hand-wringing and preciousness about how this is Vermont and stuff like this isn’t supposed to happen here.
Where’s the bubble of social justice that keeps man’s inhumanity to man out of the Green Mountain State? There’s no get-out-of-complicated-social-issues-free card that’s issued when you cross the border from Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, or Canada.
Hate groups exist in Vermont. The Klan used to be pretty active here. The state participated in eugenics experiments.
The treatment this family faced is a daily reality for people the world over, including Vermont. If you think otherwise, I’m sorry to inform you that you’ve either been deluding yourself or letting someone else do it for you.