In my experiences working in a variety of schools, I met students who acted like they lived on their own islands, not aware or not caring how their behavior affected anyone around them. To achieve my goal of doing what I could to help these individuals be more aware of others around them, and care how their positive or negative actions affected them, I developed the Growing G.R.E.E.N. InterActions Social Literacy Program. I developed hands-on motivating materials and visual strategies (Wise Action Tools) as well as an instructor’s manual (The Guide’s Guide) and a book of lessons, worksheets, and role-playing activities to help students learn to Think First before interacting. Students experience the positive consequences of interacting in Grateful, Respectful, Empathetic, Easygoing and Navigating (G.R.E.E.N.) ways with others on their Home, Classroom, Friendship and Work Teams. Through presenting the program’s lessons and strategies, I had the extraordinary opportunity to witness individuals transforming from initially acting like they were on their own islands, to displaying the ability to deliberately make choices in their words and actions that not only benefited themselves, but benefited others on their Teams.
In Chapter 2 of my InterActive Lesson Book, titled “What Makes Our Civilization Work?”, I stress the importance of making positive, civilized connections with other people so we all can move forward instead of backward. We do this by acting in thoughtful, helpful, kind and civil ways.
Chapter 2 includes the lyrics to my song titled “Keep the Civil in Civilization” in which I optimistically sing that “we can learn to act together to make a better world”. We find ourselves in a critical time period in our civilization in which it becomes urgent for all of us to act civil and work together to care about each other, protecting each other during this pandemic so its negative effects can be lessened.
I would like to politely state my point of view for us to all to “be our better selves in a better world”. I personally want to live my life through G.R.E.E.N. thoughts/words/concepts that have guided me and others to move toward that positive goal. To provide you an opportunity to think about how it may be better for all of us to choose to wear a mask when appropriate during this pandemic, I share my own G.R.E.E.N. Thoughts on the subject:
Grateful: I wear a mask when needed to show that I am Grateful to have other people remain alive and well.
Respectful: My willingness to wear a mask shows that I respect what others may need for their comfort level.
Empathetic: Wearing a mask shows I am concerned about how others might be feeling during this pandemic.
Easygoing: When I cooperate in wearing a mask when needed, I show I able to be easygoing so we can all work together to achieve the Common Team Goal of slowing the spread of this virus!
Navigating: Even though wearing a mask may be irritating and uncomfortable, and is not something I would ever want to do before this pandemic, I take a calming breath, and do it. I provide myself with self-coaching Guiding G.R.E.E.N. Thoughts to keep coping and navigating through this challenging period.
Now I would like to present the Civilized Choice Checker, a visual strategy (Wise Action Tool) discussed in Chapter 11, titled “Thinking First to Make the Best Choices”. We can use this tool to determine if wearing a mask is the best choice.
When using the Civilized Choice Checker, noted above, we first survey the scene to notice this virus is deadly and very easy to spread through the air!
We then can compare Choice A-wearing a mask in public vs. Choice B- not wearing a mask in public and resisting wearing one when asked to do. We then ask which choice meets more of these criteria:
1. logical- This choice is logical, so by making this choice, things will get better and not worse.
2. safe- This is a safe choice; people are less likely to get sick.
3. good for everyone- This choice is not only good for me, it’s good for everyone; it helps us all work together for the common good.
4. uses self-control- This choice demonstrates that we can control what we do when we are with other people.
If I fill out this Civilized Choice Checker to compare Choice A and Choice B to see which one “wins”, I find that Choice A wins by getting most or all the points. I then follow through on taking the best action choice by wearing a mask whenever I am in public or near someone I don’t live with.
I hope that sharing my thoughts on why I choose to wear a mask will encourage more people to decide to do so until this pandemic is over. Using the G.R.E.E.N. words and strategies of the Growing G.R.E.E.N. InterActions Program has helped me and my own clients/students to think, make our best choices, and interact successfully to make things better for ourselves and for the other people in our homes, our virtual or “live” classrooms, and in our communities. I am truly grateful that I don’t live on an island all by myself. It would be very lonely. I am grateful that there are other people living and working in my community and in the rest of my country and want them to stay alive and well. No one asked for this pandemic to occur, but it is here, and I believe we must do our best thinking and take our best actions to navigate through it to get to the other side. Wearing a mask during this pandemic is one way we can all work together, striving to stay alive and well and “be our better selves in a better world”.
-Herb Hein, MMSc, CCC-SLP
Meet the Authors
Herb and Joanne Hein