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  • Vanessa Rae

what masks mean to me

I've never written much about politics, and it's certainly not something I thought I'd write about in a blog dedicated to massage.

But this is 2020, and the volume has been turned up so loud on so many issues of importance that the din is deafening-- and mind-numbing. I feel I cannot sit idly by without using my one small voice.

Yesterday, I watched the President of the United States, who was just released from the hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus, take his mask off and tell Americans not to fear.

While I believe strongly that living in fear is not a healthy way to live, using caution, doing things for the greater good, and being respectful of guidelines- backed by science- are all generally fine tenets to live by.

I saw the president take his mask off and I thought, "This feels like someone raising their middle finger in my face."

I felt like someone was mocking me for having to close my business for two months, and laughing at me for wondering how I was going to make ends meet.

I felt like someone scoffed at the elderly sick and dying in nursing homes without their loved ones nearby.

I felt like someone laughed in my face while I worked for hours with a mask on to ensure safety and care of my clients.

I felt sad for my nurse friends I know who have struggled through half a year at stressful jobs, stripping their scrubs off in their front yards, fearing for their very lives, worried they might bring illness home to their loved ones.

I felt Trump mocked those grocery store workers who have stepped up above and beyond their duties in ways no one ever dreamed would be necessary.

I thought of the sleepless nights. For all of us.

I felt dismayed that a leader would tell an entire nation of people-- people with an unimaginable diversity of physical ills-- not worry to much about getting sick with a horrible flu. One that might kill you, or could at least take you out of work for a while. Not everyone has the luxury to take time off, not everyone has access to healthcare, not everyone can take the risk of getting sick or getting others sick.

Masks are the lowest common denominator of decency, precaution and care.

To just fling it off and say "don't worry too much about this thing" is abhorrent.

While we all lay somewhere on the spectrum of political leanings and ideas, to me, masks mean one simple thing: I care. There should be no politics in that.

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