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This Time, The Personal is Not Political

Wear a mask. During the pandemic, all of us have heard this request. The direction seems simple enough, and yet, every day I see people walking around in public with their faces fully visible. They seem not to have a care in the world as they stroll along potentially infecting their fellow humans.

I had an unpleasant conversation last week with a woman in the grocery store. She waltzed right in carrying a young girl on her hip. Neither of them were wearing masks. I was in the checkout line and when she passed I said, “You need to put on a mask.” She ignored me and continued to walk through the store. She came by a second time (headed towards the wrong exit) and I repeated my statement.

She replied, “Mind your own business.”

I said, “This is my business.”

She shouted, “I’m not your fucking business!”


Feminist and writer Carol Hanisch wrote an essay titled, “The Personal is Political.” By the time of its publication, the phrase was already commonly used among feminists of the 1960s and ’70s as a way to explain that both personal choices and political policies had an effect on women’s lives in the United States.

However, that feminist rally cry doesn’t apply here.

In the case of this worldwide pandemic, there is nothing political about wearing a mask. The issue is one of safety. Infectious disease doctors like Anthony Fauci tell us that people can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus. This is especially concerning when one considers how many in our community are vulnerable. Children younger than a year, the elderly with chronic health conditions, and those who are immunocompromised are all more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population. Unfortunately, we are seeing that this virus, just like the ones before it, does not discriminate. Even if you are not in a high-risk group, you can still die.

I have a couple of medical conditions that make this particular virus dangerous for me. I’ve never been in this position before because I’m in good health, but the reality is that if I contract COVID-19 there is a high likelihood I will die. My life literally depends on everyone following the protocols for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

Wear a damn mask.

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