Wearing a Mask: An Experiment in Empathy

I live in Texas. We have a significant increase in not just Covid-19 cases, but in the last 3 weeks our hospitalizations have tripled.

I believe the best thing we can do right now especially in Texas, is to wear a mask. I support our governor in his effort to keep his constituents safe.

Now don’t exit out of my article just yet. I understand you might not agree with my stance, but I hope you will listen as I share my lived experience.

Just this past week, I learned that I had been exposed to someone who has tested positive. It’s a big deal for me.

Why is it a big deal? I have multiple sclerosis. It’s a big deal even if I get the flu. My body does not respond well to high fevers and respiratory symptoms.

I’m currently taking a medication for MS that lowers my immune response to lower lung infections. I need to be more careful and it’s hard because I want to go and do like everyone else.

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment.

I go to the grocery store like you. I like to run into Target and shop. I enjoy a good cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. I long to go to church, be with my family, and play with my new grandson.

I live with many limitations because of MS. Everyday I have to live with limited walking mobility and extreme fatigue. I walk into walls, stumble like I’ve had a few too many, and walk with a noticeable limp.

There are many activities I would love to be able to do, but cannot anymore.

I don’t say all of this and don’t talk about this all the time because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. However, I’m breaking my rule to hopefully allow you to see from my perspective.

If we all decided together to wear a mask, would it help to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19? Maybe. Maybe not. What is the harm in giving it a try?

I am already living with limitations, but if you refuse to wear a mask, I will have to live with more restrictions.

In an article by Dr. Jim Denison, he writes about the medical facts of wearing a mask. The fact remains that if I only wear a mask and you do not then you can still spread the virus to me. If we both wear a mask it reduces the chance greatly.

You may have the virus and not even know you have it. My son was exposed to someone who tested positive because she was around someone who had the virus. She was also asymptomatic. Neither my son nor his friend were wearing masks. He had to self-quarantine for 2 weeks thus missing out on coming home to see his dad for Father’s Day. He did not want to expose me.

Because you refuse to wear a mask, I must stay home. Let that sink in for a minute. How would you feel if it were the other way around?

This is what empathy requires. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Then the command “love your neighbor as yourself” has nuanced meaning.

In our country we have dragged politics into everything. I have done the same, but when I stopped ranting about my freedoms and my rights, God whispered, “love your neighbor as yourself.”

This is not a political issue for me. If I were to contract this virus, I may not survive it. Would my friend who has cancer survive? Would my 90 year old mother survive?

The next time you are out and enjoying your freedoms and you see someone wearing a mask, ask yourself a question. Does this person have an underlying condition? Am I unknowingly exposing this person? Am I making them feel at ease?

Let me ask you one final question, how will you respond?

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

1 Corinthians 10:24

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