As a child of the 1950s, I have seen a lot of changes in terms of safety over the years:
- Back then, nobody wore seat belts in automobiles. Most cars didn’t even have them. Today, they are standard equipment, along with air bags. In most states, you can be issued a ticket for not wearing them, but as a kid from a different era, I still resist using them as it doesn’t feel natural to me.
- I loved riding my bicycle just about everywhere. I took it to school every day, rode it to my Little League games, to go fishing or visit a neighbor, etc. At that time nobody wore a helmet, and yet I didn’t know of anyone falling off their bike and hurting themselves. Today it is a requirement with some states issuing fines for not wearing them. As for me, I refuse to wear a helmet as I never wore one as a child. I still think they look stupid, but people have embraced them as the government enforces their use.
- We rode on skate boards and went down steep driveways, all without helmets and leg or arm pads, none of which existed at the time. If you were going to crash, you simply learned to slow down and fall on grass. It was no big deal. Now it is.
- In Little League, we wore canvass “ear muffs” to protect our heads at the plate. When we would have a pick-up game though, we just wore baseball hats, just like the major leagues. Today, Little League includes full helmets with face guards.
We also played hockey without face masks, including myself as a goalie; we went down winter hills on sleds without any protection; we shot BB guns and slingshots in the fields (and No, we didn’t “shoot our eyes out”); we learned to shoot bow and arrows; we lit firecrackers; went fishing and used knives to clean our catch, and; we even played lawn darts (aka, “Jarts”). Remarkably, we all survived unscathed and enjoyed ourselves immensely. In truth, it was a glorious time to be a kid. When I describe this to parents today, they look at me like I have three eyes, that I am some kind of glutton for punishment.
The same is true with surgical face-masks. In the depths of the many influenza outbreaks we have had, very few people wore face-masks. Today, thanks to COVID-19, we are told by our government to wear them everywhere. President Biden wants to send a face-mask to each American and have us wear them until at least 2022. There are also new requirements to wear face-masks on government property, including our national parks.
The question though becomes, “When can we stop wearing them?” There are some medical institutions now questioning the effectiveness of face-masks on COVID-19; others suggest we need to wear multiple layers of face-masks.
My feeling is, face-masks are here to stay. It is now the “new normal,” just like seat belts, helmets, and other safety equipment. Even if 100% of the American public was properly vaccinated, we would still be asked to wear face-masks. Why? Because government officials will claim there is a new “strain” of some kind which will likely come and go in perpetuity. So, in all likelihood, the government will never tell us to put the masks away. It is not in their best interest to do so as it represents a form of control and is deemed to be politically correct to wear, particularly among Democrats.
Even if the government declared “the coast is clear,” people will likely continue to wear face-masks in supermarkets, social gatherings, at work and school, and wherever. The government has created a new habit, which people will be reluctant to give up. Years from now, you will tell your grandchildren, “I remember when I was a kid, we never wore face-masks, not until the government mandated their use.” They will look at you and say, “Wow, you are really old, aren’t you?”
You will know face-masks are a permanent fixture of our society when you start seeing television commercials featuring designer masks. They will likely be embraced by the fashion industry who will use it as an excuse for changing our wardrobe. Over time, we’ll look like a nation of holdup artists ready to stickup gas stations and convenience stores.
As for me, like I said, I’m a child of the 1950s. I will continue to resist seat belts and helmets. Heck, I’ll even play a game of lawn darts if anyone has them. And I have no intention of wearing face-masks 24/7. I guess I like to live on the edge.
(I would like to give a tip of the hat to A.R. in Dunedin for the inspiration for this piece).
Keep the Faith!
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