To the editor:
We live in a difficult time. People have strongly varying opinions about so many tough topics: taxes, immigration, abortion, the border wall, liberalism vs. conservatism, racism (and its interpretation), and so much more.
This pandemic, which is unprecedented in the havoc it has wrought, has heightened people’s responses. For many, that means they work harder to be kind, for others it means their anger runs rampant.
My niece ran into the latter type of person at the UPS Store parking lot. There to send out a package, she put on her mask before leaving her car. She did that as an act of kindness. Those who wear masks are protecting others. They are choosing not to spread the virus if they are unfortunate enough to unknowingly have it.
An older gentleman stepped up to her to tell her she was stupid to wear a mask. She calmly told him that she was not stupid, that she had just graduated from St. Olaf College, and that she was simply following the CDC guidelines.
The difference between the two sides of that encounter is striking. My niece was simply following CDC instructions, being considerate of others, mailing her package as safely as possible.
This man clearly did not believe in wearing masks, though the experts have urged citizens to do so. However, until or unless it becomes a law that we must wear a mask, it is not mandatory. So, he had a choice, and he made it. But my niece had a choice, too. And she had the right not to be accosted by another and insulted for the choice she made. He was, in fact, infringing on her rights. I am proud that she was able to give an even, calm response rather than take insult or display anger. Her response was the adult one.
During this sad, difficult time where we seem to have so many reasons to disagree, I am asking people — please be tolerant of other’s choices, please exercise respect and kindness. I believe we all want life to be good and fair for all, but we will never all agree on how to make that happen. Could we at least agree to disagree courteously? Don’t call out another for making a different choice than yours, particularly when there is no harm to you.
When we lose our humanity, we lose everything. Let’s not let that happen.