We thought we might as well join the great face mask debate as everyone else seems to have weighed in on the issue. The Elephant Story in Comfort, Texas is on the side of caution as evidenced by our entry sign shown below. We have had one customer react badly to the store entry requirement of wearing a mask, but we feel strongly about it to protect our employees and customers. However, in our part of the world we have thrown politics to the side and opted for science, unlike some pockets of government. We also take exception to the concept of a herd infection mentality that is based on the unproven theory that the young will throw off the disease, develop immunity and the old will die which kind of tidies up the aging society issues of Medicare and Social Security outlays. All of that might be economically handy but certainly not spiritual, no matter what your alleged religious beliefs might be.
You should know that the three hundred elephants in The Elephant Village in Ban Ta Klang, Thailand are doing well though there is little outside income from people visiting the village and their craft market. Our support to the veterinarian and English language program continues though it has been a bit of a struggle as we have all been economically impacted by the various quarantine periods. The elephants here do not wear masks though the students shown below have latched on to the concept.
It appears that the mask debate is not just a current issue as it existed in 1918-1919 during the influenza pandemic. The New York Times recently published an article entitled The Mask Slackers of 1918 which drew many analogies between a time over 100 years ago and now. Local municipalities would order the wearing of masks in response to outbreaks of the deadly flu. Fines were common for those who failed to comply though they may not have involved jail time as suggested.
Moreover, masks were offered to the public at no cost to buttress defenses and stall the spread of the pandemic of that time rather than waiting for weather to get warm to contain the Covid-19 pandemic of today. Perhaps, we should have considered a free Covid-19 testing program to control the spread rather than worrying about test results making us look bad. As the image below shows, there was wartime patriotism laced into the anti-influenza campaign during WWI. Patriotism is earned by a government that values the lives of its people rather than having it squandered on the vanity and egos of the leaders. Sadly, some of the free masks a hundred years ago were worn to rob banks.
We have previously commented on the successful program in Thailand to control the pandemic as compared to most everywhere else in the world and more specifically the results in Texas, which have been horrific. There are social distinctions as the Thai people do not shake hands, nor hug and generally grasp a concept like wearing masks. Moreover, they will follow leadership instructions which has appeared to work well. When Thailand began to open up to the outside world, there were new cases of Covid-19 that were introduced from abroad which were immediately contained. The country has had no reported indigenous cases in the past two months.
You should know that when I lived in Japan, the Japanese would without fail, begin wearing a mask at the first outbreak of cold weather. I ridiculed their behavior and once cut a hole in a mask to accommodate a cigar and make a stupid statement. In the wild west, people wore masks to rob banks and would never fear some undefined disease. My grandmother, nee Howard, maintained her great uncle was Jesse Howard - "It was a dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard and laid poor Jesse in his grave.” In fact, she named her first-born Jesse but, as far as I know, he did not rob banks like Jesse Howard, a.k.a. Jesse James. However, if you are told to wear a mask and everyone is doing it, most people in today’s world would go along. Fear of fines and punishment are not the answer-just fitting in as many Texans would prefer to do if they were instructed to wear a mask rather than making it optional. Many people are embarrassed to put one on if it is not compulsory though they probably recognize the potential to inhibit the spread of the disease and save lives. Furthermore, odds are most people would be relieved to escape the unfounded bravado of foregoing a mask. However, strong leadership is needed to make people an offer they “cannot refuse” particularly if they really want to remain on the sunny side of the dirt a bit longer.