Bourke Accounting associates are fairly civic-minded. We tend to drive the speed limit, recycle our metal and clean up after our pets. We hold doors for people, sneeze into the crook of our arms and wear masks when venturing out into the world. Of all the things that Bourke workers do, I am constantly surprised that our mask habit has proven to be the most provocative.
At this point, you can’t help but notice that masks have become politicized. Honestly, I’m a little confused; when I walk into the corner store to buy my coffee, I rarely get angry that the sign on the window warns: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service. I simply put my shirt back on, get my large drip, 2 sugars, and go about my day. For some Americans, the mask controversy, and isolated acts of violence, is difficult to understand. And, by the way, it’s also a complete and total re-run.
Welcome back to 1919, everybody! Many comparisons have been made between the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and our own current situation: how transmission occurs, infection rates in heavily populated areas and, yes, even the mask controversy. While the Spanish flu was raging, the city of San Francisco “enforced the wearing of masks” (Businessinsider.com) and, while most people complied, it was by no means unanimous. Starting in January of 1919, an “Anti-Mask League” (calling themselves the “Sanitary Spartacans”) formed to protest masks (Businessinsider.com). The Spartacans argued that the masks were “unsanitary, useless and a threat to their constitutional rights” (Businessinsider.com).
Interestingly enough, when the Spanish flu first made the scene, the populace didn’t really have a problem wearing masks. Since World War I was still being fought, officials and health organizations reminded Americans that wearing masks was “patriotic” in nature and helped to protect the health of soldiers who might have to return to the frontlines (History.com). The Red Cross even released a public service message labeling those who failed to wear masks as “dangerous slackers” (History.com). Since red-blooded Americans didn’t want to be responsible for a lost war (or thought of as a slacker, dangerous or otherwise), the masks were an easy sell.
However, when the war ended in November of ’18, local administrations lost their primary bargaining chip. Without the fear of infecting soldiers, citizens bristled at the continued mask requirement (History.com). Much like today, individuals gathered to protest the perceived heavy-handed command. Also, much like today, some Americans did not like being forced to protect themselves and others; they argued that a “free” country should be just that – completely and unequivocally.
Obviously, mask wearing is a personal choice. I won’t shame anyone for not wearing one, just as I hope no one will shame me for sporting my stuffy face covering. While it is a choice, it must be noted that, after mask-wearing became enforced during the Spanish flu, San Francisco’s death rate was reduced by 25% (Businessinsider.com). So, you know, just saying.
As with everything else, Bourke Accounting is even making the mask-debate easy for you – we’re open for drop-offs and mail-ins exclusively. Since Bourke Accounting professionals want to see you again next year for a proper visit, we can only hope that you’re taking care of yourselves and your loved ones. And remember: as sad and as frustrating as this re-run is, it won’t last forever!
Written by Sue H.