A personal post today, giving voice to thoughts on which you are free to disagree.
Mask wearing is to become mandatory in the UK when inside a shop as well as on public transport. I read this news and suffered my first panic attack of the current lockdown. As may be expected, my anxiety levels have spiked since March. Finally this floored me, perhaps because the news came just as levels of isolation were being eased. Hope was offered that soon we would be able to move around freely again, and then it was taken away.
My Twitter feed filled with pictures of healthcare workers pointing out that they wear masks for long periods during their standard working day. ‘If I can, so can you’ appeared to be the mantra. My reaction was one of admiration (for the important job they do) and despondency (at my own deficiencies). And then the thought fluttered in that if I were to die it would bring relief. Such is the way my mind works when I am struggling. I quash such thinking, aware it is a reaction to panic that will eventually ease. I’ve been here before, although not under such widely polarising circumstances.
I claim no rational reasoning in my response to mask wearing, other than the message it sends that sections of society – perhaps stoked by a relentless media – have grown fearful in a way previously unimaginable. Fear is contagious, and always we are expected to conform quietly.
This latest ruling adds a further restriction that will be punishable by the police who, since the first lockdown rules were imposed, I encounter with trepidation. How will they interpret my rights? When I dared share this particular concern with others I was met with examples of those who, perhaps by dint of their skin colour, have long struggled to trust the police. I observed my feelings being invalidated – shut down and made shameful because others have it worse.
Do not voice dissent. Do not attempt debate. Stay alert to the words and behaviours that will see you condemned.
There is talk of a need to get the economy working again, of job losses and resultant hardship. I wonder how the numbers will stack up – if more will go into shops because masks are being worn or if, like me, people will stay away until we are freed from all recent constraints. Not entering a shop remains a choice.
Fewer customers may please supporters of mask wearing but will not help the retail trade. Businesses need clients and customers if they are to survive.
There will be exceptions written into the rules on mask wearing. Those with valid reasons will be exempt. This will not stop certain people judging and shaming.
‘Just wear a mask’ many are saying. I question the wider cost.
Please try to be kind, even to those who do not sing from your song sheet. All actions have consequences. Lives will be lost due to measures taken as well as from the virus.