Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, August 10, 2020.

One of last week’s most commented news piece was the one about Walmart and their new mask requirement starting next week.

It’s an interesting one still when it comes to masks. Some grumble and openly refuse to even consider wearing one, while others just go with it, saying it’s good for everyone’s safety. It is. And it does not eliminate the risk completely but it sure takes it down a few notches when we’re out in public.

If my wearing a mask can put someone’s mind at ease, someone whose risk is way higher than mine that is, than it’s worth it. Plus, on a personal level, I am considering my own well-being and my family’s.

My youngest had asthma when he was younger. It’s been a smooth couple of years and I want to hope he has completely outgrown it, but I cannot escape the thought that he might have not and should he contract the virus, that will show.

A mask makes me aware of the people who have to wear one every day for up to 12 hours, and it also makes me grateful for being able to don one on.

I am reminded that though our governments, local and federal, are not perfect, we’re lucky. So very lucky to not be told ‘it is what it is.’

We can grumble and call it ‘just a flu’ but meanwhile, can we put on a mask and look out for each other that way? Is it much different than choosing to be responsible for other people’s lives while driving for example?

Anyone who chooses to not speed, or drive under the influence, or use their cell phone while behind the wheel – that’s responsibility at work. For everyone’s safety.

In less than a month, schools are supposed to reopen. I am hoping this decision will be reconsidered with perhaps better measures. Numbers are increasing each day, but they are still in the two-digit zone, thank God. Fearmongering, some say, getting the news of daily cases. I’d say it’s knowledge of where we are and whether we should be casual about it.

There are vulnerable people among us. They are as safe from this virus as the rest of us are understanding of the fact that we’re in it together. Wearing a mask is one way of showing it.

It’s unfortunate that some people get so offended for being asked to wear a mask in a store that they threaten to never shop there. But the store’s perspective matters too, more so if it’s a small local business which is already struggling to keep afloat.

As for the news that we must wear a mask in this store or another, or on public transit… Really, it’s not that big. There’s so much else that is happening in our world that we should be worried about. On Friday the last fully intact ice shelf in Canada has collapsed into the Arctic Ocean.

When I first read the headline on social media, I had to reread. And once more. And then I felt sad for the world we’re handing over to our children. It’s hard to reconcile. It’s heartbreaking.

Yes, that is big earth-shattering news. That the Arctic is overheating due to climate change; that so much life on our planet is suffering because of the effects of climate change, humans included and that the pandemic is greatly accentuating the divide between rich and poor.

With all of this happening, and much more, it’s safe to say that wearing a mask while out in public is just not a big deal. Call it community thoughtfulness if you will. Or simpler yet, caring. Just that. Caring for each other.