Letter to the Editor: Love Thy Neighbor and Wear a Mask


It was not long ago that my husband and I spent Halloween with our son, daughter-in-law and 14-year-old grandson. The evening was crisp and clear. Their walkway was gaily lined with twinkle lights to safely show the way up the stairs, where we sat wearing our masks around the blazing fire pit ready to hand out candy to costumed trick-or-treaters. 

“Thank you,” each said as they received their treats. 

Before we left for home, the moon rose above the hills west of Winlock — a perfect ending to a festive holiday. 

It’s been 40 years since we wore masks to protect our lungs from Mount St. Helens’ ash. Remember when we proudly dangled them from the rear-view mirror? We frequently changed the air filters of our cars, kept our animals in and wore our masks to protect our lungs.

So what is the big deal about wearing a mask during a pandemic to protect ourselves and others? I’m a gray-haired 5-foot tall former teacher of adults. I’ve always had to stand tall, speak up and be assertive to be heard and respected. The word assertive does not mean threatening, aggressive or bullish. It does mean displaying confidence. 

So when I go to the grocery store wearing a mask, as most thoughtful, law-abiding people do, I’m appalled when an unmasked man more than a foot taller and weighing twice as much as I, looks at me in a defiant glare just daring me to say something. 

Instead, I look away and bite my tongue, worried he might sling a fist, pull out a gun or a knife and attack. 

Wear a mask for crying out loud. Children are expected to sneeze and cough into their sleeve. It’s polite and a simple gesture to prevent spreading germs. So what’s the problem with adults protecting one another and instead spread a bit of holiday cheer? 

Be creative. Let us look into one another’s eyes and say, “I like your mask.” How about a pig snout or a turkey beak with a red waddle for Thanksgiving? Or how about wearing an elve or Santa hat and a clever mask with a funny nose or beard? 

As the frosty, rainy months of winter bring on illnesses that lower our resistance, we all need to take extra precautions to remain healthy. After all, Christmas is the season to share love and joy with one another, not our germs. 

Follow the law. Laws are created to protect us and our neighbors. All communities and institutions have rules and laws. Compliance is respected. Non-compliance is for 2-year-olds during the tantrum period testing their limits. We’re supposed to grow out of that period and become an example for others to emulate, for leadership, for respect.  Make wearing a mask fun. You’ll get a smile, spread some cheer and bring a twinkle to another’s eyes rather than fear or disgust. 

“Love thy neighbor as thyself,” Jesus instructed in Mark 12:31. What greater love than to protect and care for others as ourselves. Let’s work together to beat this virus until we have a viable vaccine. Keep you distance and wear a mask. 


Janet Lynn Rubert