Put Up or Shut Up

I often like to write (usually on social media) that if we’re unhappy about something, it’s our duty to do what we can to change it. Sitting behind a computer complaining on social media accomplishes next to nothing. After all, how often have we changed someone’s mind from a Facebook or Twitter rant?

Everyone has a hill they’re willing to die on. Sometimes we don’t know what that hill is until we’re standing on it. That happened to me, and I was honestly surprised that ended up being my hill. What is that hill you wonder? Mask mandates. Yep, that’s my hill.

Before I continue, I want to assure you this isn’t a post about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of wearing masks. I’m sure you’ve heard it all anyway and have already made up your mind.

With more cities and counties now considering mandating masks within their city/county limits for all businesses and in public settings, I was faced with a choice. Do I continue to sit behind my computer, send out emails to all city/county commissioners and leave it at that, or do I show myself and everyone else that I am indeed willing to die on this hill by showing up at public meetings whenever and wherever possible?

First I did a little research, sent off my emails, and spent the next three days writing and polishing a speech should the county commission open up the meeting for public comments. And praying. Lots and lots of praying.

I could barely sleep, because the idea of speaking in front of people stresses me out. The first speech I ever gave was a speech class in ninth grade. I was picked first and was so nervous, I got a muscle spasm in my top lip. I looked like I was mimicking Billy Idol’s snarl as I talked about the solar system (or whatever my speech was about). Thankfully that only happened once. Still, I can’t help but think, “What sort of spasm or tick will my body do this time?”

We arrived at the courthouse (my hubby willingly and lovingly gave up the last day of trap shooting for the season to join me for moral support. Because he’s awesome like that). We had to walk through a metal detector and have our temperature taken. I held out my wrist and she took my temperature. Or tried to. It kept saying “Lo.” She tried it on herself and it worked, so she tried again on me. It still wouldn’t read so she placed her wrist on mine. “Wow, you are cold,” she said. She then set the gun down and said, “You obviously don’t have a fever.”

I was only slightly surprised the gauge wouldn’t read, because my hands get frigid when I’m nervous. I didn’t realize that it affected my arms as well.

So we sat through the normal agenda and listened to the health department give their presentation and officially ask the commission to pass a county-wide mask mandate. Although a bit out of the norm (because the agenda didn’t call for a public hearing, something that needs to be announced thirty days prior to the meeting), since so many showed up, the commission did open the floor for public comment.

I looked around the room to see if someone wanted to speak first. After the third, no one stood. I took my speech from my notebook which for some reason decided to fly out of my hand and drop to the floor–rather loudly. All eyes turned toward me, so I stood and said, “Well, I guess that means it’s my turn.”

Because previous speakers had already mentioned some of the points I wanted to make, I used only the last few paragraphs. No spasms or twitches, no Billy Idol snarls, and I even looked up at the commissioners once in a while instead of burying my nose in my paper. I stuttered and stumbled a few times, but I also wasn’t alone in that as most everyone else who spoke did the same.

Once done, I sat and thought, “Finally. I stood up for something I believe strongly in. I didn’t die on this hill (figuratively or literally), but I at least showed (myself if no one else) this time that I’m not all words and no action with regard to my willingness to do so.”

And not to be too braggadocios, a reporter for a local newspaper thought some of my words were good enough to mention in an article about the meeting.

4 thoughts on “Put Up or Shut Up

  1. Even though I believe in the science behind a mandate requiring the wearing of masks in public places where proper spacing is not possible or not being practiced, I understand how some people do not – particularly for those who are in danger of losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic and Covid-19 posses little threat to their health. I just believe other people’s health and lives are more important than the minor inconvenience to the vast majority of us of having to wear a mask when we are in public spaces, even though those at risk of serious health problems and possible death if they contract Covid-19 are in the minority. I believe there are times, when we as a whole, need to step up to do the right thing to protect others, even when the others only consist of a very small minority of us. Nonetheless, I do enjoy reading your articles. It is not often that I get to read the word, “braggadocios.” 🙂

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      1. Sorry, but I did understand that the main theme of your article was about inspiring people to take action on things they believe in, rather than just posting comments on social media sites and otherwise complaining from the safety of their home. What could I do? The article ignited my view on mask wearing, which, in turn, took over my thoughts, and I had limited time to submit a reply because of other commitments this morning and early this afternoon, so I just went with my initial thoughts. Though I know, by your smile face emoji, that you were not offended by my “armchair warrior-ing.” It is good for me to be reminded of my imperfections, as doing so will hopefully ultimately make me into a better person. Some may dispute that I am capable of becoming a better person, as I acknowledge I can be pretty stubburn at times, another one of my many charactor flaws on which I need to work. 🙂

        Have a great weekend and God Bless you and your family!

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      2. No problem. There’s never a need for you to think you have to censor your comments, because I do appreciate them whether I agree or not. I just didn’t want to be drawn into yet another debate on masks. People for the most part have made up their minds and will no longer be dissuaded.

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