Ask Regi

Dear Regi: “I’ve read a boatload of comments on social media expressing anger and frustration at people not wearing masks, not social distancing — basically not following the guidelines set up for everyone’s safety. It’s important to do those things to keep every- one safe but the finger-pointing, judging and insults are wearing me out. I only wish to help the situation, not pile on. How does one kindly and respectfully encourage safe behavior?”

~ Stacy

Stacy, a leopard never changes its spots. I should probably end it right there, but I’ve got two columns of text to fill here.

To me, people and foxes should be allowed to do whatever they want — unless it could hurt someone else. Not taking simple steps to protect yourself and maybe prevent someone else from getting sick, well I just don’t get that.

We are all still learning about COVID-19, but we do know that wearing masks and social distancing are important ways to help all of us stay safe. I care about others as much as the next fox, so I admire your desire — hey, that rhymes! — to respectfully bring that message of safety to social media. As my human friends at Regis would say, “we strive to be contemplatives in action.”

Here are a few tips that came into my big ol’ brain (which, frankly, I don’t get to show off enough because I can’t talk) for respectfully encouraging others to behave more safely:

Tip #1 - Trust your instincts. I use my keen sensibilities as a fox all the time! Consider your audience and don’t let people trap you into no-win conversations, even if they try to entice you with a big creme-filled donut.

Tip #2 - Should you choose to get involved in a discussion, make sure what you say comes from a place of love and logic. If you do that, you’ll be able to frolic away knowing you gave it your best. And I love a good frolicking.

Tip #3 - Try to express even the minor benefits of safer choices. For example, encourage others to show off their personal style through the masks they wear. There are all sorts of wacky designs out there. (Personally, I like the rainbow chocolate sprinkle pattern). I recently also had to get my mask special-ordered because my head is so ginormous it has its own solar system.

This issue reminds me of a prayer a wise old Regis squirrel once told me when I was just a pup: “Grant me the strength to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

I thought that squirrel was pretty cool for saying that. Until I realized he ripped off the quote from the 20th-century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. I’ve looked at all of our campus squirrels differently after that.

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