A year after the pandemic really took off across America, here we are still having the same arguments online between a bunch of hobbyist social media amateur infectious disease scientists... masks or no masks... People on both sides of this question are rabid in their beliefs. I think the biggest reason people fight the mask is because, as Americans, we instinctively just don't want to do what any government tells us we "have" to do. We're pretty famous worldwide for being a country of mavericks with a reputation of fighting overbearing governments, so it was sort of a natural thing to resist. All the while, the other half of our country focused more on the intention of the legislation and saw it for what it is... a minor inconvenience aimed from a wholesome place. Right or wrong, masks have been the hottest topic for a year. Before we hop further into a fight about what is and what isn't concerning masks and the lingering pandemic, I'm pretty sure it's time to stop shaming people about their masks or lack of, and here's why.

First off, I get the premise of why masks were recommended and how they are/were supposed to work. I still wear mine, but mostly because it's kind of cool walking around like an anonymous outlaw. It's not comfortable at all even after almost a year of wearing it, so I'm looking forward to when I can toss it in a cabinet to be used for the next global pandemic. All the same, my thought process when I see other people not wearing masks does a synaptic parkour around my really bumpy brain. Sometimes I think "Oh, they've probably been vaccinated" and other times I'll think "It's not polite to not wear a mask where signs are posted" like at the grocery store for example. While I hate to, I'm man enough to admit it, I'm probably judging a persons intention based on looks. The younger they are, the more I lean towards them just being rude people choosing not to wear a mask. The older crowd gets benefit of the doubt for vaccination even though masks are still recommended post-shot. You look around facebook, I'm not alone in my quiet judgement.

The vaccine really is the wildcard here. Oklahoma has done a pretty stellar job ensuring we have access to it. While once limited through government departments, now you can find it in many places around town locally. Some hospitals and doctors offices, the mall, select Walmart and CVS locations are offering it now, I got mine at Sam's Club. We're just about to the point where anyone that wants the vaccine can easily find and receive it. With it being such an option to everyone, maybe it's time to take the same approach to masks.

As Texas now has the option to completely open up, several cities around the state are still upholding their own mask mandates. All the same, as Oklahoma lawmakers are pushing a return back towards normal, Lawton is upholding our mask mandate and leaders are pretty hush-hush on the topic. While I still agree that masks can help prevent the spread, the libertarian in me still wishes it was my own decision to wear one or not. When the city started talking about this requirement, I thought it should be left up to the individual and private businesses to set their own terms based on their own thoughts, and that the government should stay out of it. Their job is to ensure we have roads to drive on, traffic lights to regulate travel, clean water and refuse pickup, and city owned malls subsidized by what was once taxpayers new streets revenue, apparently. If you ever thought a government could legislate your health better than yourself, look at the VA.

On that same note, if a business requires you to wear a mask, you should wear a mask if you want to shop there. If you don't want to wear a mask, you can shop somewhere else. In that case, it's absolutely not a violation of your rights as a citizen because you are not forced or required to shop that particular store. Same goes for restaurants and any other public venue where business is conducted. At least then, you wouldn't be compelled to post online about the person you saw walking around the frozen foods without a mask on, and the inevitable squabble between hobbyist social media amateur infectious disease scientists wouldn't even have a chance to take place.

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