The Ongoing Mask Debate
Just as we were all relaxing about Covid and international travel was beginning to open up, along comes Omicron and it sorts of feels like we are all back where we started. Through the course of the year, we have navigated two major variants, Delta and the current one that calls itself, Omicron. None of us feel thrilled when these new variants appear as they impact all our travel plans and jeopardize the holidays. It is a sinking feeling that traveling anywhere may result in us being stranded and as such a number of us have canceled numerous plans through the year. As frustrated as well feel, this is a time for us to come together more than ever. Ask your neighbors how they feel, watch your favorite movies and follow your local mask mandates.
Did I just use that dreaded “M” word again? I’m afraid I did. Only 10 states have any form of mask mandates and as much as the residents of those states may hate the idea, it is a responsible choice. As a theatre company that powers social change, we believe this is the right time for us to speak. Social change only comes about when all of us speak, when all of us listen to each other and when we feel responsible for each other.
Why Do We Need Masks?
After vaccinations, masks are possibly the most debated aspect of this pandemic. Masks have been required or optional at various points in the last two years depending on the hospital capacity in specific areas. Masks are extremely annoying but a number of studies endorsed by the CDC have shown them to be extremely effective.
What Will Happen if You Don’t Wear Masks?
You may be vaccinated or unvaccinated but as the States’ guidance on masks changes, it may be prudent to consider following it. No one is saying that masks exclusively will save your life but they are the easiest thing one can do to protect oneself and our loved ones. Still not considering it? Well, look at it from another angle. Covid can cause you to be hospitalized and that comes with a hefty price tag. In the US, the cost of being hospitalized can range from $20k — $50k. Considering that a box of masks can be as low as $15 and vaccinations are free, prevention is definitely looking better than cure!
What Do I Do About People Around Me?
We all know that we cannot tell people how to live but we can make our own choices. If you have a friend who is refusing to consider either options and would rather risk it, the first thing you should do is talk to them. Try to understand their reasons and work with them if they are amiable to finding solutions. If you find that nothing will convince them, save your breath and tell them respectfully that you will have to see them on the other side of the pandemic.
Mask debates do not need to divide us. They are a preventative measure and do not deserve to be politicized. Make your choice as best as you can whilst considering the situation but remember that choices have consequences. You are free to choose but you are never free of the consequence of your choice.
Jessie Fahay for Ripple Effect Artists. Jessie is an actress, playwright and author who is heavily invested in bringing about societal change through the dramatic arts. After years of working in Educational Theatre, as a public speaker, actress, author, graduate student, and her work with Landmark Education and United Global Shift, she has developed an even stronger commitment to making a difference through her love of theatre and appreciation for theatre-education as a vehicle. Thus, Ripple Effect Artists was conceived. With a committed team of Board Members, Actors, Directors, and Theatre Lovers, Jessie has seen her wish of pushing audiences from apathy to action come together and hopes to continue inspiring change in generations to come.