In a lengthy Instagram post Sunday night, three-time Olympic gold medalist volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings laid out her opposition to wearing face masks as it takes away individual rights and discussed her "little exercise in being brave" of going shopping without wearing one.
Walsh Jennings, who is hoping to represent the U.S. again at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, said in her post -- accompanying an image of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote -- that a quote "This has not been enforced, it’s been consented to," prompted her to share her feelings about wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and local health agencies across the globe have said wearing masks helps slow or stop the spread of the virus.
"This statement woke me up & the truth of it has had me obsessing on the matter of how I can mindfully & compassionately stand up for my rights & for the freedoms our constitution has granted us all WITHOUT being reckless or putting anyone else in danger.
"We are all endlessly complaining about the restrictive & arbitrarily selective rules that we are being strongly “suggested” to follow & yet we are all consenting; Not much of a fight, just a lot of complaining & strongly disagreeing with this manipulation, but we keep consenting. It’s maddening. It has crushed our society, people’s livelihoods, our children’s spirits, & the fabric of our world. We have become a country & a world estranged from each other & it is more deeply unhealthy than any virus could ever be.
"I know people are getting sick & many have gone to Heaven. I have lived through a lot of loss in my family, in my life. I cherish life. I would never downplay the impact of a single loss of life. That is it’s own conversation & my heart goes out to all those suffering poor health, the loss of a loved one and the fear that the reaction to & media coverage of COVID-19 has created in your days," she wrote.
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In the comments section, she continued, describing her interactions at the store as "incredibly uncomfortable" and later advocating for people to improve their health.
"Mostly, I want to empower people to start/continue to live healthy lives. Eat well and eat real food. Prioritize sleep. Move and get your heart working every day. Pay attention to your breath and perhaps start a breath work protocol to work and strengthen your lungs. Get outside. Think good thoughts. KNOW your immune system is designed to support you through any illness -- we must support our entire system. I want people to stop living in fear and start living in a way that strengthens themselves body, mind and spirit.”
The post elicited strong responses of both support and condemnation in the comments.
On Monday, she added another post to her feed, alongside a graphic with the word "Truce," where she said the point of her comments was to address her belief that "freedom is right [sic] worth fighting for…" and said that she is not advocating for people to stop wearing masks, although she also cast doubt on the efficacy of some masks.
She continued in the comments section.
"I truly believe we are on the slipper slope of a mask mandate evolving into a vaccine mandate and that scares the (fire emoji) out of me."
The post was endorsed by former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who chimed in with "Amen!" in the comments section.
Walsh Jennings won gold medals in beach volleyball in 2004, 2008, 2012 and bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janiero. She has played professionally for nearly two decades, racking up dozens of titles.