Alan Greenbaum: If we all wear them, we protect each other | TheUnion.com
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Alan Greenbaum: If we all wear them, we protect each other

Other Voices
Alan Greenbaum

We are living in crazy times — so much so that it’s difficult to triage through the list, which includes public health, social unrest, political divisiveness and more, and establish priorities.

That said, I think that the immediate and ongoing existential threat to so many of us must go to the top of the list — the pandemic.

There does not seem to be a conspiracy behind it. There is no political cabal that is directing it in order to influence our upcoming election. It’s real; it’s worldwide; and it’s upon us now.

What can we do to minimize the number of people being infected by this virus? The best and brightest among us have come up with answers that are remarkably simple to implement. Keep your distance from others and wear a mask for protection.

The first time my wife and I wore our masks to a local market, we were scolded in the parking lot by somebody who said, “The mask won’t protect you, so don’t bother with it!” Later that week I went to a local sporting goods store which had a sign displayed, “A mask is required to shop here.” The greeter welcomed me as I entered wearing my mask. But behind me were a father and son who were asked by the greeter to put on masks. The father screamed at the greeter saying that if he had to put on a mask then he wouldn’t spend his money there. His actual language was angry and abusive to the greeter.

As it turns out, it is probably correct that a mask does not protect the wearer as much as it protects those people around the one wearing it. So should we not wear a mask?

There is an old story about Heaven and Hell. A man died and found himself at the entrance to the afterlife. He was told that he had a choice; that he could spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. He asked what was the difference and was taken to see both.

In Hell, he saw a huge dining table covered with the most luscious food and drink. Seated around the table were people who were gaunt and starving even though the feast was but inches away from them. The room was filled with moaning and groaning. It turned out that each person had shackles around their elbows so that they could not bend their arms and therefore could not feed themselves.

Then the man was taken to Heaven where the scene was similar: the table, the food and drink and the people sitting around the table with shackled elbows and straight arms. But the people were well-fed, laughing and very happy. The difference was that in Heaven the people were feeding each other across the table.

The mask I choose to wear may do little to protect me. It may ultimately be for your protection. So if we all wear them, we will protect each other and get through this terrible time much faster. What has been a hellish experience may resolve into something quite heavenly.

Alan Greenbaum lives in Grass Valley.


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