COMMENT:

First of all, spare a thought for conspiracy theorists who had to go into absolute overdrive last night and probably pulled a double-shift of spreading nonsense, following the announced news of new Covid-19 cases in New Zealand last night.

With that out of the way, and with no desire to bury the lede here, I'll get to the point: wearing a face mask is the biggest act of compassion one human being can do for another right now.

Kindness, in 2020, has a tangible symbol and that symbol is a face mask.

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It's 2020 and a pandemic is killing hundreds of thousands across the world, spreading fast, infecting millions, leaving those who are "lucky" to heal from it with devastating consequences that we are only just starting to learn more about.

The ultimate act of caring for those around you is to protect them from yourself and whatever germs you might be carrying.

Wearing a mask does not "infringe on people's freedoms" like some will try to tell you. But ... so what if it did?

Would you not temporarily give up some of your freedom if it meant a chance at keeping others safe?

That's not a rhetorical question. However you answer it defines you as a human being.

There is no grey line here. If you refuse to put yourself through mild discomfort in order to keep others around you safe, including immunocompromised people, you're not a compassionate person.

People who care about not spreading viruses wearing masks in downtown Auckland. Photo / Getty Images
People who care about not spreading viruses wearing masks in downtown Auckland. Photo / Getty Images

Masks are not an attack on anyone's freedom any more than seatbelts are. They're not an election weapon or some big ploy for the Government to control you. And no, Bill Gates doesn't really give a toss about you either (what can I say, you're just not that big a deal). There's nothing the Government needs to know about you that it doesn't already know (or that it can't find out via all the information you've already given Facebook and other places).

Masks also do not deprive you from oxygen. Tons of people already wear masks daily in their jobs and their oxygen levels are fine. Sure, they don't look awesome and they're not exactly comfortable - but they're also not putting you at risk or any of the exaggerations conspiracy theorists and dumb "I've done my research" influencers try to tell you.

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(Funny how their "educated research" never includes any official advice or even actual experts but just a random selection of YouTube links).

Ignore those who call you "sheep" without realising they are the ones following others down ridiculous rabbit holes.

People wear masks as they walk around in Britomart, Auckland, this morning. Photo / Getty Images
People wear masks as they walk around in Britomart, Auckland, this morning. Photo / Getty Images

Face masks are about keeping your germs from other people around you - it's as simple as that. They are an item that says of the wearer: I care about you enough to wear this in case it keeps you safe.

Sure, they're not fail-proof. They might not even help all that much. Maybe conspiracy theorists are right and they won't stop the spread of the virus - but, I ask you this: why not try?

Worst case scenario, face masks do bugger all. Best case scenario, you could literally save a life.

There's a lot in the world to get angry about right now but being asked to put a piece of cloth in front of your mouth when you're near other people so you don't potentially infect them with a virus is not it.

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If someone you know is against wearing a face mask, you've just found out something very important about them: they care about themselves more than they care about those around them.

You cannot claim to truly care about others if you don't accept that, in a pandemic, anything you can do to potentially keep others safe is worth doing.

Compassion towards others is an absolutely fundamental trait of any decent human being and I urge you to expect nothing less from the people you surround yourself with.

If you see someone wearing a face mask, remember this: they are doing it to keep you safe.

Preventing your germs from reaching someone else is the ultimate "shirt off one's back".

It's true that most of us will survive this pandemic. But only some of us will get to be proud of the way we handled it. Anti-mask people are acting selfishly and hurting their community.

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A few decades from now, your great grandchildren will talk about the 2020 pandemic. They'll talk about Qanon and all the people who put others at risk under the guise of protecting their "freedoms", refusing to socially distance or wear a mask. But they'll also share tales of kindness, of those who put the collective needs above their own beliefs and worked towards the greater good, who trusted experts and who did what they could to protect others.

It's up to you to decide which one you'll be.