During the COVID-19 pandemic we are witnessing the polarization of ideas and attitudes regarding how best to deal with it. Wearing masks was 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 might choose not to wear face coverings, but remaining calm when we disagree is more likely to bring about understanding.
Reasons 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.
Reasons or beliefs for choosing to wear a mask:
The practical etiquette question is, "How can I be more recognizably respectful to others?"
For mask wearers:
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 unless stated rules are in place, responds that when he is criticized for being mask-less in the open air, he always says, "Thank you," means it, and goes on his way.
It's difficult to feel resentful when you are wishing someone well. Surely, avoiding resentment is good for your health and being respectful of others always a top priority.