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Why I Choose to be a Sheep 

by Brenda Mahler 2 years ago in lifestyle
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Living in a community where following the crowd is expected but herd mentality has consequences

Wipe Keefe The Denver post 03/16/07

Recently, I wrote an article pleading with people to wear a mask, In Case You Haven't Heard, Wearing a Mask Helps Bend the Curve. When I published it on a Facebook rant page, I got crucified. Yes, I choose the word intentionally. It means to criticize someone severely. I fear if I had appeared in person in front of some of the readers, my body would have been tar and feathered. I was called names, most not appropriate to share, but the one that caught my attention was "sheep."

My motivation to write the original article stemmed from a news broadcast where the announcer stressed the need to wear a mask to bend the curve of the growing pandemic. Using sarcasm, my words stressed the same message but questioned why there is even a need to make this statement. I even attached a funny joke to lighten the content.  

At first, my reactions bounced around like a Tigger in a Winnie the Pooh cartoon. Anger to be called expletives; I had not been called such names since I retired from teaching. Sadness that the world, our country, my town cannot discuss important issues in a rational manner. Fear that people's reactions spike swiftly when confronted with a topic in which they disagree.

The emotion that pushed my desire for more information is confusion. Am I a blind sheep following the directive to cover my face to protect myself and others from this dangerous virus? 

A lesson

A lesson I taught to students when we read To Kill a Mockingbird made me think. I lectured about the harms of mob mentality- - following along blindly. The following images come from a presentation I created for this lesson. 

During our discussions the students made several observations

  1. Mob mentality is generally used to define groups that produce negative outcomes: violent protests, Black Friday riots, KKK, out of control sporting events, The Holocaust. . . 
  2. Sometimes we choose to follow the crowd for civil disobedience: protect individual rights, provide checks and balances in the society, establish religious freedoms, challenge social injustice, or protect the community against harm
  3. All behaviors should be personal choices that evolve after weighing the information with an curious mind, considering the possible outcomes, understanding the consequences to self and others, and aligning them with personal values. 

My lesson

After much thought about my personal motivations to wear a mask, research on the effectiveness of a mask, and reflection on the pros and cons of conformity, several conclusions lead to my decision. 

My motivation

I have watched my mother suffer and die because of a severe lung disease that made if difficult for her to breathe. Earlier this year, I visited my father through a hospital window when he had a stroke. Due to coronavirus, his family stood outside his window as he laid in the hospital bed until he passed. I have spent hours, no days, in the hospital when one daughter had a life altering car accident and then later when she had a live changing stroke, and more time when the other daughter had cancer. My motivation to wear a mask is to diminish any possibilities of hospitalization. 

I have been ridiculed because some believe I live in fear. I choose to believe I live in wisdom. 

Research 

I have read research studies on the harms of COVID, short-term and long. News broadcasts and articles are monitored to understand events and different channels are watched, (FOX, CNN, MSNBE, NPR) to obtain different perspectives of events. I attempt to consider all the angles and find a balance of information.

People tell me I watch too much news, I've been brainwashed, and the percentage of people dying is low compared to the number of survivors. I choose to be informed, choose to believe the facts, and am not afraid of death. I am afraid of living with a disability. 

Reflection

I understand following blindly has consequences. But I also understand the harms of not following the science and making decisions without information. 

Thus, I choose to wear a mask. 

For now, I can not understand why anyone would not wear a mask, but I will not call them names or belittle them - at least not to their face. We all will choose our own destiny. As you make choices, be as insightful as my high school students who know the importance evaluating information with an curious mind, considering outcomes, understanding the consequences and aligning choices with personal values.

lifestyle

About the author

Brenda Mahler

Stories about life that inspire emotions - mostly humor.

Lessons about writing based on my textbook, Strategies for Teaching Writing.

Poetry and essays about the of art of being human.

I write therefore, I am.

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