DIANE DOUCET, jlw.com Guest Contributor
As a society, we often look on the social achievements of our past with pride. Humanity has conquered some deep-rooted misconceptions, injustice, prejudice and discrimination on its journey to a more inclusive and balanced society.
Although we collectively acknowledge areas in which progress still needs to be made, there are areas of unjust human interaction that have been left in dark corners, to be forgotten or unacknowledged in the shadows.
It can be challenging to bring forth socially ignored aspects of ourselves, especially if they are not being acknowledged in the mainstream. There is a notion that permeates society. If problems aren’t acknowledged by our leaders or media, then they must surely be fictions imagined by those who are deemed too sensitive or are labeled as privileged for complaining about “trivial things”.
Why are the serious hurts inflicted on some individuals viewed as inconsequential? The most likely reasons are that the idea hasn’t been implanted into the collective consciousness of humanity and most are far removed from being able to entertain the notion because they themselves have never had to experience what so many are going through.
The people who suffer without support or compassion from their fellow human beings need to be brought to light. They are the individuals who are facing discrimination, harassment and are being denied access to society because of something that is out of their control, their medical conditions.
Our world has drastically changed since Covid entered the scene. The more noticeable changes, the obvious ones, are recognized by all. In the name of security, we have allowed almost all normal human behaviors to be modified without question.
In this era where obedience is likened to safety, it’s easy for human beings to become unpleasant with those they have been conditioned to view as a threat to be labeled, blamed and hated, all thanks to government and media psychological manipulation.
Enter the label “anti-masker”. It joins the ranks of the infamous “anti-vaxxer” label which illicit conditioned negative emotional responses.
There has been a saturation of the stereotypical “anti-masker” in our media. It is a figure that is being painted as a selfish and privileged threat; a figure that is being pointed to as the cause of why difficult government measures continue to be imposed on a struggling population.
People with certain medical conditions have been legitimately recognized by the scientific community as not being able to wear face masks. Masking is a medical procedure that is not suitable for all.
Those with medical conditions who try to live their lives as best they can under the rise of Covid measures are increasingly being met with hostility, contempt and discrimination everywhere they go. The harassment comes from various sources; from the employees and business owners who are being pressured to ensure compliance, to Covid enforcement officers who fine, intimidate or arrest them, to the customers and other citizens who walk by giving them dirty looks, who question them at every turn for the reasons of their bare faces or who simply hurl abusive remarks at them. Some have even had the misfortune of being physically assaulted.
Other methods of differential treatment consist of businesses refusing this demographic service. They are sometimes turned away at the door or are left ignored and unattended by staff who refuse to acknowledge their presence.
Businesses are using “accommodations” in order to justify the acceptability of treating the medically exempt differently. Many are only offering curbside pickup or online options. There have been instances where people have been asked to wait in the cold outside for lengthy periods because the establishment didn’t want to risk having the unmasked medically disabled mix with their customer base.
The medical reasons why an individual cannot wear a mask are broad, from breathing problems, to developmental disorders, to PTSD and other mental health issues, the list goes on.
People are being subjected to added humiliation when they are faced with incessant questioning probing into their medical status. Having to reveal confidential medical information to every door clerk, cashier, manager and customer you encounter on your outing is a stressful situation at the best of times. It can also trigger deep trauma in those whose reasons are caused by deep psychological wounds. Imagine having to reveal and simultaneously relive your sexual assault to the mechanic at the auto repair shop or the person questioning you at the door of a store with a lineup behind you, hearing everything.
Although it might be controversial to say, I think it worthy of mention. The mechanisms used today to separate people and serve them differently than their peers are reminiscent of the methods used in the segregation era. In the past, people were greeted with signage on the front door of businesses denying them access completely or were given separate facilities as “accommodations”. They were unjustly deemed unworthy of being treated with the same courtesy and respect as others based on their skin color. Today, people with medical conditions are left out in the cold, treated as dangerous second-class citizens in the name of safety.
What’s being designated as “accommodation” in the Covid era is not being acknowledged for what it truly is; a form of medical discrimination and segregation.
We’ve been conditioned as a society to view these mechanisms as exclusively belonging to specific demographics and eras of history. This does disservice to us as a species because it gives a free pass to forms of injustice taking hold today. We get to ignore them in the name of political correctness and on the assumption that because the scale of the mistreatment is not as obvious or tragic, that it is somehow trivial and should be condemned if brought up.
When does injustice become injustice? Isn’t the mistreatment of one just as egregious as the mistreatment of all? Why do we socially recognize the abuse of others only once the damage has been widespread and tragic? The truth is, we don’t know the scale of what people are enduring. Many have decided to avoid the stress by sheltering themselves completely and not going out anymore. Some people find it perfectly acceptable to say: “Good! If they have medical conditions, they shouldn’t be going out anyway!” Since Covid measures are being imposed on a murky and possibly indefinite timescale, how long would they have to stay confined in their homes? The deeper question: Who gets to decide who is worthy of participating in daily living?
Does this not remind us of the former practice of hiding the disabled in closets and asylums, tucked away conveniently from society’s eyes? The homes of the individuals afflicted with medical conditions that prohibit them from adhering to the mask mandates have become symbolic ghettos of confinement. For many of them, they would rather face the ravages of isolation and banishment than be subjected to the pain they feel when trying to participate in society.
Have we lost our humanity in such a way that we find ourselves more comfortable not having to see the people who bring us discomfort? All this based on a fear that media and government have instilled in our hearts. We’ve been conditioned to think it acceptable to mistreat people if it makes us feel safer or prevents us from facing the consequences of government should we not push for total compliance.
When will the topic become an acceptable one, worthy of discussion in the eye of public opinion? One would hope sooner rather than later for there are too many already who have been cut out and discarded from society. Our neighbors are hurting today and they deserve better. May we find our lost compassion and start the conversation as soon as possible. Our silence perpetuates the problem and creates conditions in which things can gradually devolve. Left unchecked, the casual labelling and mistreatment can morph into systematic and socially acceptable forms of hatred. These are the lessons of history. When groups are lumped under labels as a means to fear, blame and hate them, that’s when slopes get slippery. Let us use history as a tool of learning instead of using it as an instruction manual. Our neighbors need us. The healing of our society needs to start today.
Watch Dr. Jack, Diane Doucet and Mike and Donna Kazee discuss this issue on #UnbreakingScience