I didn't really want to share this. I didn't really want to "say" anything. There is so much going in our world right now that my words about my "problems" seem so insignificant. So I decided I was just going to keep silent and continue to listen and learn.
But then I saw something that made me feel like I had to speak up. At least get it off my chest if nothing else. I watched a video of a grown woman in a grocery store throw a full blown tantrum for being asked to wear a mask. She had refused, so she had been asked to leave the store. Her response was to scream and begin throwing every single item out of her cart across the grocery store. She threw things at the shelves, at the other shoppers, and at the employees. Simply because for the 30 minutes she was going to be in the store she was asked to wear a mask.
When I saw this video I began to cry hot, angry tears. I tried very hard not to take this stranger's tantrum personally. I rationalized with myself. I told myself, "You don't know this lady. It doesn't matter what she thinks." and, "You don't go to the store anyway, so don't worry about people like that." But none of the conversations I had with myself could prevent the tears from falling, the anger from rising, or the deep sadness I felt in my heart.
I don't know her. And it doesn't matter what she thinks. But someone does. Perhaps someone like me who is counting on others to do what's right and help keep them safe during this time. And unfortunately her way of thinking is not rare. Thankfully there aren't many people going around throwing full blown tantrums and throwing items in the grocery store, however, many people agree with her. And that's a problem. Because agreeing with her is, in a way, saying you don't care really care about people like me.
I don't go to stores. So I don't have to worry about people throwing groceries at me. I haven't seen the inside of a grocery store since March 17th. Not being able to go buy my own groceries is a whole other thing. But my mom goes to the store. A lot. And then she comes home to me. And there are many, many people who do the same for vulnerable or sick or elderly family members. And those who work at the store (who by the way have to wear their masks much longer than the 30 to 45 minutes they are asking you to) have families and loved ones too. Some of them may be vulnerable and need every precaution to be taken.
I must say that I have been incredibly blessed by people who care deeply for me and want me to remain healthy and alive. My entire life I have had a family who has gone out of their way to consider me, protect me, and ensure my health and well being -many times making sacrifices in the process. I have incredible friends who support me and check in on me and remind me that they are continually praying for my continued health. They have sat vigil by my bedside in the hospital, they have slowed their pace so I can keep up, they have worn red with me on National Wear Red Day. When I have needed them they have been there. Even when I did not have a need, they have shown up for me time and time again. I am forever grateful and incredibly blessed.
Now, more than ever I need them. People like me need them. Vulnerable populations need them. We need YOU too. We need YOU to come together for all of us. Because if you value our lives during heart month, then you should value our lives during these months we are experiencing a pandemic. If you value our lives when we are fighting for them in the hospital, then you should value our lives during a pandemic to keep us out of the hospital. If you will stand with us to to say that every life has value no matter their ability or disability, and how their body functions or doesn't function, then you should stand with us during this global pandemic. You should protect every life - able bodied or disabled, normally functioning or abnormally functioning. And you can do all of this simply by taking precautions: following social distance guidelines, continuing to wash your hands, and wearing a mask in public.
Listen, I'm not going to make you do anything. I can't. It's exhausting. It's exhausting to constantly rely on others for things you can not do for yourself. It's exhausting to ask people to consider you and your health. Every fiber in my being hates having to rely on you and to ask for your help. Trust me. It's humbling and hard. I won't love you any less because you didn't do what I think you should. I promise. I just ask that you consider people like me, and the people who know, and love, and live with the people like me. I ask that you consider others. I ask that you show kindness. I ask that you allow yourself a minor inconienve to protect the health and the life of someone else.
Let me make a very bold statement. One you can choose to agree with or not. Here it is: Wearing a mask is not a political statement. Let me repeat myself incase you didn't read it clreary the first time. Wearing a mask is not a political statement. Despite what the media and the politicians and the Facebook trolls have tired to make us think, it is not.
Let me make another bold statement. One you can choose, once again, to agree with or not. Wearing a mask is a humanity issue. I'll repeat that again one again too. Wearing a mask is a humanity issue. It's about believing that the other humans around you, the ones you know or may not know, are important. You don't know who you might be in touch with who is vulnerable, or who is in contact with someone who is vulnerable. And wearing a mask is simply a way to help one another.
Again. I can't make you do anything. I know I probably won't change your mind. All I am asking is for you to think. Think about how your actions affect those around you. Think about how your choices affect other people. Think about how you can be selfless. Think about how you can be kind. Think about how you can help others during this time. We need each other. We have no other option to but to rely on each other to get us through this. And know that your life is so very valuable to me. Will you make an effort, a simple sacrifice to show me that mine is too?