COLUMN: Be respectful, not judgmental about masks

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

This month I’m going to (gasp!) wade into some potentially controversial subject matter during this seemingly never-ending pandemic in which we find ourselves.

2020 has brought numerous issues into the spotlight—racial inequality, police brutality, pandemic response—and, depending on your level of trust (or lack thereof) in the media you encounter, government officials and health experts—as well as your long-held personal beliefs, prejudices and convictions—your opinion is shaped by an endless list of factors.

Indeed, people have their opinions about all of these topics, and thanks in no small part to social media, we have no shortage of opportunities to share these opinions.

I have encountered some healthy discussions on social media. Granted, in order to get to the good conversations, you have to wade through a lot of muck. Lots of social media posts are innocent fun, many of them are utter wastes of time, and still others consist of people screaming their (often misguided) opinions into the void.

One subject that just won’t go away is that of whether or not one should wear a mask in public. One of the latest developments is the city of Montevallo’s decision to ask people to wear masks while in city limits.

I’ll go ahead and say that I applaud the city of Montevallo for this decision. Some might say that you need teeth for this measure; that without enforcement or consequences for those who defy the city’s wishes, you’re essentially not changing anything. But I believe most of the people of Montevallo are considerate people who will honor the wishes of their elected officials. Let’s just say I’m willing to be optimistic.

Of course, there will be those who will get offended and fight to the end their right to decide the matter for themselves. And there will be many in between, among them those who cannot breathe well while wearing a mask. I have people in my family who are asthma sufferers who fall into this category.

No matter your opinion, I would suggest a couple of things. Try to be open-minded. It can seem to be a rare quality, but open-mindedness can go a long way toward uniting our communities. It’s a universal mindset that can apply to virtually all the issues our county, state and nation are facing today.

Also, be respectful of others. If you see someone wearing—or not wearing—a mask, and you happen to disagree with them, don’t be a jerk about it.

That said, I’m convinced that masks help. I have worn them while working to avoid pollen and dust, and I can attest that they have their benefits. Medical professionals wear them for a reason. They are not the end-all, be-all, but they are a step in the right direction.

Just use common sense—learn how to use them properly, learn about the different kinds, wear disposable masks only once, and be sure to wash and rewash your reusable masks—all this while following recommended CDC guidelines.

Be well—and enjoy your weekend.