I wear a mask when out in public because that is what I (and we) are asked to do. The experts tell us that masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 and I usually follow the advice of experts; they often know more than I do.

I have my opinions on masks, but I’ll try not to share them here. I am not anti-mask, or non-anti-mask. I am opposed to polarized opinions about masks.

Let's be straight. We all believe what we believe. We have opinions. That’s OK.

I read the online posts about masks, and quite frankly, I think both sides have good arguments.

For the mask wearers:

Newsletter signup for email alerts

You care about others. You want to protect the vulnerable. You listen to the experts and believe what they say. You do what you have to because it is what is asked of you. You want to stop COVID-19, so you wear a mask.

For those who chose a non-mask appearance:

You don’t always believe the information you receive from the media. You feel you live in an area where you can social distance safely without affecting others. You don’t want anyone to get sick, but you feel you can keep yourself and others safe without a mask.

Everyone believes they have their own valid points. Please read that sentence a second time to let it sink in. Everyone is embedded in their own belief system.

You. Me. Us. We are all living out our own truths.

Can we leave it at that? Please?

Like I alluded to earlier, I am in the middle of the road. I’m not super this or super that regarding masks. I do what I need to do to protect myself and others. One day that may look one way and on another day (and in other circumstances) it may look another.

I’m doing what I need to do.

You are doing what you need to do.

My needs may differ from yours and vice versa, but I think we can agree on one thing: no one wants to be lectured. Especially on social media. We didn’t enjoy lectures from our parents when we were teenagers so why would we want to subject ourselves to them now?

Quick answer: we don’t. None of us.

So here goes. I’m sorry if I am about to offend anyone. It is not my intention.

Please quit lecturing. You who believe masks are the weapon of a controlling government. I hear your pain. You who believe masks save lives. I hear your quest. But I do not want to be lectured on the subject from either of your well-intended, strongly-felt sides.

Lectures were meant for college. We paid for them then, but don’t want them for free now. Social media is full of cut-and-pasted long (long!) posts regarding masks. These posts are filled with quotes from experts. They are meant to sway your opinion regarding this subject.

By and large, they fail. Pro mask wearers will not change their opinion based on an anti-mask post and vice versa. Please quit copy and pasting ideas written by others. If you want to create a post filled with your own words (much like I did with this column) I welcome your thoughts. But don’t simply rely on the words (and ideas) of others — no matter how eloquent.

And please, if it sounds like a lecture, it probably is.

With that, I apologize for this column. I’m lecturing against lectures while I likely lecture; I acknowledge that. My intention is not to sway you to one side or another. You can keep your side and your mask or lack thereof.

My intention is to bring us together. Because beyond masks, beyond lectures, beyond COVID-19, beyond our own personal beliefs and opinions, we all need to come together now more than ever before. Let’s support each other, not tear one another down. Our country was built on differing beliefs and opinions.

Let’s not lose sight of that. Take care everyone. Stay safe.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.