During the COVID-19 pandemic we are witnessing the polarization of ideas and attitudes regarding how best to deal with it. Wearing masks is a prime example of the source of many news-making disagreements.
But polarization can serve as an opportunity to re-evaluate our own judgments and behaviors. Never have we needed etiquette and empathy more.
There are many reasons why people choose to wear or not wear face coverings, but remaining calm when we disagree is more likely to bring about understanding.
Reasons/beliefs for choosing to wear a mask:
Reasons/beliefs for choosing not to wear a mask:
One of the primary principles of etiquette is to be respectful and considerate of another's right to choose what he believes best for himself, though we might not agree that the choice is wise.
Mask-wearing or not, the practical etiquette question is, "How can I be more recognizably respectful to others?"
For mask wearers:
When people are fearful of being harmed by what they view as others’ disregard, or fear their right to choose is being compromised, they feel resentment. But guessing the motives of the behavior of others is counter-productive.
A good friend of mine has the secret to overcoming her harsh feelings of those who aren’t wearing a mask. When she encounters such a person, she smiles under her mask and says to herself, “May you be safe. May you be well.” This helps her stave off resentment.
Another close friend who doesn't choose to wear a mask for reasons he believes valid, doesn't like being told he should wear one. However, his response is to say or think, "Thank you. Good thoughts."
It's difficult to feel resentful when you are wishing someone well. Surely, avoiding resentment is good for your health.