That time would have been this morning, in my hotel gym in Minneapolis. I also left without completing my workout because of this asshole.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz just ordered a four-week shutdown of bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness clubs, starting Friday. This is how bad things are here. And yet this asshole shows up to a gym without a mask, and proceeds to do sprints on a treadmill.
I still can’t fathom the disconnect that too many have with this pandemic, and the willful ignorance of the part that individuals play. There’s a disturbing cavalier attitude – “oh, I’ll be fine, so I don’t need a mask” (not considering, of course, if you do get sick and take up medical resources, you’ve done so completely unnecessarily, a price that others pay). Or – “if you want to protect yourself, you’re free to put on a mask. That’s not my problem”. Or – “I’m free to do whatever I want, this is a free country”. All of these bely an appalling lack of humanity, a profound disregard of the responsibilities we have towards each other.
Look, you can try to refute the (internationally accepted) scientific studies supporting the use of a mask. I don’t even want to get into that. But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt. If you were an ER nurse, would you walk into work without a mask?
You wouldn’t, would you?
Frankly, I don’t care what anyone believes. I’ve always held that what someone believes is their business.
However, how that someone acts becomes my business, our collective business. We all live in a society. We are able to have the lives that we have – materially, spiritually, and otherwise – because we live in that society. If we are going to enjoy those benefits of societal living (security, access to shared resources, etc) we need to do our part in supporting our community. It’s as simple as that.
When I read the news and look at the latest shocking numbers, I’m absolutely heartbroken. Heartbroken. Because all I can see is a statistical representation about how much people in this country apparently don’t give a shit about each other.
I’m sorry for this little rampage, but I’m angry. Angry at the politicalization of basic hygiene measures. Angry at the mass rebuke of “love thy neighbor as thyself” in a country that purports to be Christian. Angry that the selfish and misguided notion of individual freedom is superseding the needs of our communities at large.
Let me cool down a bit and end with this: anger is hard for me. While for some, anger leads to a lashing outward, for me it brings a lashing inward. It’s such a heightened and active and seemingly dangerous emotion that my tendency is to let it tear me up inside rather than unleash it on those around me. In my mind, that’s my way of sparing my friends and family.
What happens instead, of course, is that my path to self-destruction ends up hurting those friends and family even more.
So. I’ve tried to release a little of it here, on this page. Because maybe by writing about it I’ve dissipated my anger a bit. Because maybe by writing about it some other angry soul out there feels heard. Because, as flawed and misguided as I may be, all I really want is to be a functional, compassionate member of society, because that’s what makes me – us – human.
And I never, ever want to be the maskless asshole at the gym.