As someone working in the service industry, I’ve been forced to confront the dark side of American individualism. Instead of embracing masks as a way to protect themselves and other members of their community, especially those medically unable to wear masks, I’ve had to bear the brunt of too many people refusing to wear them, usually for the same two reasons.

First, people find masks uncomfortable, and while I agree, I am still able to wear one without complaint for more than eight hours because while masks are uncomfortable, I find respiratory diseases to be far more uncomfortable. The second most common reason I hear is because people believe that wearing a mask encroaches on their “right as an American” to endanger their own lives and others, and so refuse to wear a mask in what I assume to be a form of self-immolation.

In times of disaster, it is our ability to come together as a collective to help and support each other that makes us human, and it’s important not to allow the minutiae of the world let us forget that.

So please I beg you, wear a mask or stay home.

Greer Foster, Bremerton