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Vigilance to the End

You should wear a mask. Below I will list several reasons you may or already have discarded your mask, but I want the message to be clear. Please wear your mask.


There is reason to be hopeful for the end of this pandemic.

  • They're probably not going to shut down schools. Ohio already failed to meet one grim milestone a couple of weeks ago. Schools stayed open even as COVID cases soared. I suspect the government got the message that if there are going to be restrictions on its citizens' behavior, it had better not come first to children attending school.

  • One company just announced yesterday a very promising inoculation which could be ready this month. And even if they don't win the race, there are 3-4 other companies right on their tail.

  • "I don't know anyone with COVID," is the argument I still hear from people who doubt that COVID exists. And believe me, they are out there. I went trick-or-treating with my daughter in her grandparents' neighborhood, and at least half the people there were not wearing masks. As foolish as these people are, there were still a LOT of maskless people out there sending the false message that we're safe.

  • New treatments for COVID continue to emerge. The President was treated with one, and it seemed to help. In fact, it seemed to work so well that he concluded it made him feel younger and that it's ok for the average person to ignore mask rules.

  • Your leaders are, in general, becoming fatigued from telling you to wear a mask. Several individuals traveling to other states have told me that masks seemed optional in many places they visited. And by optional, they meant "not worn." This message seemed to be actively or passively supported by the powers that be.

I could go on, but I wanted to highlight a list of common excuses people don't do things that are good for them.

  • It's not that big of a deal.

  • No one cares if I am safe or not.

  • No one else is being safe.

  • I don't think what I'm doing is making a difference.

  • People live foolishly, and they're fine.

  • Nothing terrible will happen if I stop being safe.

  • People smarter than me aren't being safe.

People are becoming less vigilant with mask-wearing in the same way they start to "cheat" on their diets in February or stop exercising after getting tired of their new treadmill. To maintain vigilance, we need to account for the fact that good behavior will seem mundane and pointless eventually. "Do not tire of doing good" is a saying because we tire of doing good all the time.


So, how can I maintain vigilance?

  1. Create a routine. Making things "mindless" to perform means making them more effortless. If you have started slipping with your mask-wearing (I saw a guy speedwalk through Target the other day without a mask), redouble your efforts and commit to wearing one everywhere. Buy new masks if you have to. Put one in your pocket, another in your car, another in your desk at work. Wear them even when no one is around, or you think no one cares. Retrain yourself to wear a mask everywhere.

  2. Recommit to the positive behavior. Make an argument to yourself why wearing a mask is a good thing. Think of all the people in your life who would be affected if you got sick. Consider having to quarantine yourself for two weeks and how that might disrupt your routine and that of the people around you. Think about who you might infect that would have serious symptoms from the virus. Think about how getting infected might affect your reputation.

  3. Set a goal. Commit to wearing a mask everywhere until you are inoculated. Most people estimate it could be late spring/early summer when there are enough doses to go around. We've been doing this for almost 9 months. We can keep this up.

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© 2020 by Andrew Schlegelmilch