The international approach to wearing a mask

Wearing a Mask should be a team effort

Column by Ethan Hockaday

Wearing face masks has become a point of contention in recent months following the onset of the Coronavirus, with the primary argument being about the enforcement of mask-wearing. For some people being forced to wear a mask is a breach of personal liberties, whilst to others, it is a needed evil to stop the spread of the virus.

It is an interesting concept to look at, understand, and contrast to other countries, like Japan. I was studying abroad in Okayama, Japan this spring when I had to return to the states due to the coronavirus. I was supposed to be there until August. But in Japan, wearing face masks was already a common occurrence and is seen as something that will help the community at large. The difference for this matter between the two countries is how both societies are built with America favoring Individualism or the rights of the individual and Japan favoring collectivism or what benefits the group as a whole.

In countries that favor individualism, such as the U.S. and Europe, people are motivated by personal goals and rewards, by objectives that will better oneself, and so on. It could almost be described as a society based on selfishness; However, societies that are based on individualism are not necessarily selfish. Individualism states that people are and should be guided in their actions which are shaped by their interests and desires, unlike selfishness that says that people should be guided exclusively by their personal needs or interests. A truly individualistic society respects everyone’s right to make and judge their own decision, including the ability to ask for and give help to others.

In contrast to this are societies that favor collectivism, like Japan, Korea, and China. Collectivism has one ask themselves, whether a decision or action would be the best for society. Long-term relationships are incredibly important, with people sacrificing an individual benefit or praise to recognize and honor their team’s success. Being singled out and honored as an individual rather than as a team may be embarrassing to the individual.

For societies that favor collectivism, the act of wearing a face mask isn’t asking much of anything, as it seen as helping to prevent others from getting sick. Because of this, the enforcement of mask-wearing isn’t as big of a deal, though it still does occur. But for individualistic societies, the enforcement of mask-wearing does encroach on one’s liberties and in the case of America, also on one’s political beliefs. However, some stores are using their right to limit access to only those who are wearing face masks, therefore not harming, or encroaching on anyone’s liberties.

Ethan Hockaday visited Okayama Castle in Okayama, Japan on Feb. 1.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *