hen was the last time you got dressed up?
By that I mean, when did you most recently put on clothing that, prior to the pandemic, you would have worn to a wedding or some other special event, a big work meeting, a job interview, etc?
Until this week, my answer would have been Saturday, March 7, at the Evangelical Hospital fundraising gala.
Last Wednesday, I drove to Sharon, to meet Jeffery Gerritt, the new editor for our CNHI Pennsylvania newspapers there and in New Castle. I decided it was the right time to put on a dress shirt, tie and suit.
(Let me digress here for a moment to say how glad I am to have Jeff with our company in Pennsylvania. He’s a distinguished journalist who has won many major awards, including the Pulitzer Prize this year for his groundbreaking work at the Palestine (Texas) Herald-Press. The Pulitzer honored a series of Jeffery’s editorials under the heading “Death without conviction,” which shed needed light on the needless deaths of pre-trial detainees in county jails across Texas. His editorials prompted needed reforms. You can expect to read some of his work in our pages.)
Getting back to what we all were wearing, I have to say it felt good to reach back to this touch of normalcy. But my outfit also included a mask. We didn’t shake hands and the four people at the meeting sat at least six feet apart.
It remains essential that we continue to make those kinds of concessions to this ongoing coronavirus battle.
Nobody likes wearing a mask. It’s awkward, makes it a little difficult to breathe and keeps us from seeing the facial reactions of others.
Still, trying to stay safe and healthy has always been a normal part of our lives.
As parents, we taught our kids all sorts of ways to be careful. We dressed them warmly in winter. We required them to wear helmets when they rode their bicycles. We instructed them to cross streets only at crosswalks, to look both ways, to not talk to strangers and to let us know if they were going to be later coming home than we expected them to be for any reason.
When they got older, we helped them learn to drive safely and hammered home the importance of following the rules of the road and never drive under the influence.
We did all that because teaching our kids to be safe and healthy just always made sense. That’s how our parents were raised, how they raised us and how we raised our children.
Wearing a mask to try to protect ourselves and those around us from this insidious virus is really no different. Sadly, though, it’s become a matter of politics and pride and an overstated sense of personal rights being violated.
A visit by a Daily Item reporter and photographer to the Lewisburg Farmers Market on Wednesday showed about a 50-50 split of vendors and customers wearing masks. A ride through the areas around our local college campuses showed a lesser percentage of mask-wearing.
I mentioned that latter fact to my oldest son, who is now 37, last weekend, and he responded: “What do you expect? They’re college kids.”
I told him that’s part of the problem.
We need to expect better, not just from college kids, but from each other.
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