At the beginning of my career as a marketer I worked for several Japanese companies. There was one in particular that was managed by a Japanese CEO, Matsumoto-san (san means Mr in Japanese).
During winter time, Matsumoto-san would always come to the office wearing a mask.
Honestly, at that time it felt really aggressive to me for him wearing a mask. It was as if I was carrying germs and he was trying to protect himself from my colleagues and me to infect him with some terrible European virus.
Now I know better. Now I understand the purpose of him wearing a mask was not to protect himself, but to protect us, his team. It took the Covid pandemic for me to better understand things that Asian people already knew for a long time.
Since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak mask-wearing has been common across Asia. Asian countries already faced a major Sars outbreak back in 2003 so they knew what was at stake.
On april 3rd the US President said in a press briefing wearing a mask is voluntary, and he added 'I don't think I will be doing it'.
In the early months of the outbreak, many state officials in different countries stated that masks weren't helping. Their objective was to stop the shortage of masks that had started which had led to a mask shortage for the medical workers that needed it so urgently. Was is the right thing to do? Probably not...but at that time they didn't know better and it was a good intention.
Today we know. Many serious studies show that masks can help to stop spreading the virus.
Unfortunately the mask has also become something political... Some people refuse to wear it as it is taking away their freedom... freedom of what exactly? This is not about freedom, it is about security. Just like wearing a seatbelt is.
While in the Western world people are still fighting about whether or not to wear a mask, Asian countries are far ahead in their battle against the Coronavirus.
Japan has a total of 1895 death and 121 000 cases for a total population of 126 000 000 people. One third of the American population and 1895 death versus 240 000 and counting.... Well that says it all, no?
Working with Japanese people has taught me something important about their culture. Asian people tend to be very respectful of authority, and they have great discipline. I am not very great at all this in regular times, but I do believe that during exceptional times we need to follow that lead. History will tell us who was right and who was wrong, but at this very moment in time being precautious and respectful of others is all that counts. Because people do die of this illness. And even those who don't, believe me, they are not enjoying a walk in the park contracting the virus. This is definitely not just a flue and it won't just vanish.
You want to get your life back? Me too. And that's why we need to listen to the experts and wear a mask. That is at least something we can do to help the situation, and it is worth the trouble. And you know what? I shop like crazy to find the most beautiful masks out there for me and my family! Check out those of Hilo Hattie, a company based in Hawaï! I am in LOVE with their masks.