The other day, a girl I grew up with and hadn't spoken with in a while reached out and asked me to help out her dad. His tailor shop's been closed since March, but he's been making masks to pay the bills. He'd even donated thousands to first responders. Would I be willing to promote their masks, she asked. Of course! I said, and they sent me this beautiful mask. I posted about it on social media and in our local email listserve. I got a message from a stranger in my community:
"Your out of your mind with those prices. You're no better than a war profiteer.
Shame on you for profiting on vulnerable people.
Let the guy get a job at McDonalds. War profiteers Asshole."
I was taken aback. This was a member of my community who felt the need to unleash her hate because of some masks. If they're too expensive for you, don't buy one. No need to lash out at someone just trying to help out a friend. I couldn't let it go. I could've just ignored the email. But, hell, I was bored, and decided to engage.
Here's my response:
"How lovely to get your kind email. I, of course, am profiting from nothing, but merely trying to help a friend keep his business afloat during, you know, this global pandemic. Of course, not everyone can afford such high-quality masks, one of the reasons he’s donated more than 3,000 of them to first responders. Personally, one of the things I love about our local communities here is the lack of franchises like McDonald’s. Of course, jobs even at McDonald’s are few and far between these days, due, again, to this whole pandemic thing, since (as you may have heard) quite a few people are out of jobs these days. And, of course, likely can’t afford masks, which is why those of us who can will donate and tip a little extra and try to help our local businesses out. I assume, from your comments, that you’re not a business owner, given your preference for fast food-related employment.
Again, thanks for your opinions and your kind sentiments. I understand there’s a lot of anger out there right now, for many valid reasons. Especially posts about masks.
Your friendly neighbor,
Couldn't help myself. There were a few more back-and-forths before I threw in the towel, but I maintained my cool throughout. At one point, I wrote back "I’d rather approach strangers with kindness than send hateful messages." Her reply was "Bring out the "H" word. That's easy." I ended it there. Clearly, no point in getting into it with this person who chose to spend her time insulting people. I thought about that final response, though, her aversion to being told she was being hateful, despite multiple "fuck you's." Why put that out in this already hurting world?
There's a lot of anger out there right now, and there are reasons to be angry. Black people are being murdered in the streets and their homes. Millions of people are out of work. Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe are dying unnatural deaths. You can't see your friends or hug your grandma. You have to wear a mask. I get it. But, let's try to check our anger at the door instead of misdirecting it and unleashing on strangers, mmmk? "The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody," right? (I just rewatched The Hate U Give, a powerful book and movie.) The more hate we put out there, the more hate we get back. It's a scary world right now, and there's a lot we don't have control over. One thing we do have control over is how we treat others. In challenging times, we need to be understanding, empathetic, kind. So, let's choose kindness over hate.
And, by the way, if you need a mask, I know where you can get one.