Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Playing Semantics – Sometimes It Matters

Do you remember, when as I child your parent would scold you, “did I say you could do that?”, and perhaps you might have responded with “you didn’t say that I couldn’t.” Semantics. We knew the right answer, and it was not our response.

The definition of semantics is a bit complex, because it all depends on what type of semantics that you are talking about. There are formal, lexical, and conceptual. Simply put, formal semantics is basically a reference or implication.

Two more definitions, “optional” and “recommended.” I am not going any more in depth than Google because we all know what these words mean. Optional, of course refers to being able to choose, or not. Recommended means advised or suggested. Now, you can have the “option” whether or not to follow a recommendation, but something being “optional” versus “recommended” are not the same at all, even though the “implication” is being pushed on a recipient.

What the Hell am I talking about? Well, obviously, with the mask on the cover of this post, we had something occur last week where I live. Our local representatives had chosen to let a “mask” mandate expire without renewal, a move cheered by many, still scoffed at as “never should have happened by others.” But to the rest of the public, this decision will have an impact.

We are all still in the middle of this pandemic. Yes, there are still plenty of naysayers out there still even claiming this is not real. And the truth is, our daily numbers are just as high as last year when the mandate was put in place. Of course, this opens a door for those against to masks to cry out, “see! The mask mandate did not help!” Wrong. With not enough people wearing the mask, it was not expected that 100% of the people would wear masks, but more needed to wear them, the concept was simple. It is as much the difference of trying to put out a brush fire with a garden hose versus an actual fire hose. There is no chance.

Yet, here we are. We are more than double the daily cases we had last year at this time, when the mask mandate was put in place. We are approaching a staggering 33 million cases in the US alone, and will easily break 600,000 dead fairly soon. Yet the one thing we can do, to at least help, is wear a mask.

Yes, I get it. It has been over a year we have been asked to sacrifice, and many have done that. But, over 587,000 have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The only thing quicker than a trip to the bathroom after eating at Taco Bell, was the actions of our local community once the mask mandate expired. Social distancing stickers on the floor, gone. Signage reminding of mitigation efforts, gone. Masks, at least a 75% reduction in usage. Remember, we are double in cases where we were last year at this time, and we are just under where the numbers would be during the summer, before the huge spike kicked in. We are far from this being over, in spite of vaccines being administered. Vaccines are only part of the plan. There are still too many in denial, too many fighting common sense. And only time will tell. But if yesterday is any indication of how ignorant and selfish the population has become to Covid19, it is going to be bad.

I need to offer a couple of qualifications before anyone tries to argue with me. I get my information from the doctors that handle my care, not the media, not from friends. I do not live in fear, afraid to live my life. To the contrary, I have lived through so many virus outbreaks, and because we knew how to handle them, I was able to live “with” the conditions. And that has been the difference with Covid19. We had no idea what we were dealing with in the beginning. Now we do, to a degree. Mistakes may still happen as experts try to adjust from the constantly changing developments. But for the last eight months, I have made the adjustments to carry on in the most important areas of my life that matter most to me, including seeing my children. No, I am not living in fear. I am following guidelines that are recommended because they make sense, and they work.

So, as I mentioned, yesterday, I went into a restaurant to pick up some takeout as I had done previously, before the mandate had expired. Before last Tuesday, it was not uncommon, in spite of the local mandate, that there were some people who “opted” or chose not to wear a mask. Honestly, the mask was a toothless tiger, in that enforcing the requirement was pretty much non-existent with a major business flaunting his rebellion against the mandate, scoffing at any measure of safety against Covid19. For me, I know you will not get 100% of the people on the same page, but at least I felt comfortable enough, to support my local businesses either getting curbside pickup or take-out.

Then Tuesday hit. No more local mask mandate. I walked into one of my favorite places to pick up my dinner for the night. And as I often do, as I entered, I scan the room, so that I know where inside I need to try to avoid. It was not overly crowded inside. But I saw no one wearing a mask, not one person. Okay, understandable, they were all eating. Then I saw the staff. Not one staff member was wearing a mask either.

I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, that I actually thought about turning around and thinking of a plan B for dinner. But I had confidence knowing that I had eaten food from here before, and it was fine. But it was a reaction that I got, that I had not experienced in over thirty years. I was being glared at by a waiter because I was wearing a mask. “Oh, great, you are one of those,” I imagined the waiter thinking. Their eyebrows were dropped, so I definitely had a feeling from them of disgust.

This business had been one who had been honoring the mandate previously, and likely reluctantly. Now, throwing away any concern for clients, they saw the face mask as something that would have a negative impact on their business. They want clients who are ready to forget nearly six hundred thousand dead Americans. Covid19 never happened. Stop reminding them it did.

Having gotten food from the restaurant several times before, because I felt with my vulnerabilities, I could do so without the likelihood of contracting Covid19, that is no longer the case. While I am sure the manager would take exception to my claim, his employees are underneath him, and they are a reflection of the business.

As I have always stated, I am one of the vulnerable. I have also delayed getting the vaccine, because I believe in research, and more needs to be done before I get the vaccine. I now know of one other fellow survivor like myself, who got the vaccine, and a couple weeks later, tested positive for Covid19. The decision I make wearing a mask, or coming into a business imposes on no one. I still have my freedom, a frequent false war cry of anyone asked to help do the right thing, to care for others. And we have learned so much more from a year ago of how to deal with Covid19. There is clearly a lot more to learn. But as we advance, certain recommendations are being made, others are being relaxed. Clearly, had there been a plan last January or February, we would not be in this situation that we are today.

A headline reads today, President Biden to announce easing of outdoor mask wearing recommendations. You see? Mask recommendations were not a mistake, they were using recommendations to mitigate, and control the spread. Some of us helped, some of us hindered, and at times, quite rudely.

Just as I had to through SARS, bird flu, swine flu, and everything else, I learned to live with the risks, only after the recommendations were made. And that was my option, my choice. There is a difference. That is not living in fear. That is not a loss of freedom. That is concern for myself and those around me.

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