Coronavirus

Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings Says She Didn't Wear Mask to Store in ‘Exercise of Being Brave'

The three-time gold medalist posted two lengthy Instagram posts over the weekend, addressing her concerns over personal rights. The posts drew both criticism and applause from followers.

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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.

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This is going to be a long post & it’s going to upset some people. My intention is NEVER to hurt or disrespect. Please know that. I am working my way through these curious times that have me questioning everything. I am wanting to lead & stand for my beliefs WITHOUT upsetting people but, per usual when one takes a stand, this is unlikely. If this hurts or upsets you, I am sorry. I am working through my thoughts & my way throughout the madness of 2020. I am wanting to be a light, an encourager of the strength + resilience within each of us and I aspire to be someone whom empowers others to take ownership of all sides of their lives. There is freedom & deep satisfaction in living this way. I want this for everyone. Here we go .... I had a little exercise in being brave yesterday & I’m still a bit edgy about it. I went shopping without a mask on 😬😳🤭 & this is why ... I read a quote the other day that shook me - - THIS HAS NOT BEEN ENFORCED, IT’S BEEN CONSENTED TO. 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. Cont. in comments ....

A post shared by Kerri Walsh Jennings 🌹 (@kerrileewalsh) on

"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.

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"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.

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.

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My goodness gracious. To those I’ve upset so deeply, I am sorry. To those who are open to hearing where I am coming from, I appreciate your openness and civility. To those in agreement, I appreciate you expressing your views. To those calling me dumb, selfish, privileged, bigoted, and racist and telling me that “you are better than this”, I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing .... pages and pages could be written about every side of everyone’s opinion, yet I went for it because I am alarmed for my country - I am heartbroken for my children - I am devastated for every small business owner who has gone under or who is barely hanging on - I have seen so much conflicting and erroneous data from the experts - and on and on and on - I have researched and I have spoken with experts .... This is why I spoke my point of view. At some point we should all stop and take inventory of everything that has been thrown our way over the past months and the reaction/ to these things. If it sits well or well enough with you, great. If not, great. We should all carry on RESPECTFULLY living our virtues, standing up for our beliefs and doing our best to do no harm in doing so. I was not looking to do anything but express my belief that FREEDOM IS RIGHT WORTH FIGHTING FOR, and amidst the chaos, divisiveness, fear and undeniable emotion of these times, I believe we have to stay mindful of the FACT that our freedoms have slowly been taken from us with our consent. I feel each of the words I mentioned above (fear/chaos/divisiveness) are being intentionally stoked and we are becoming a country that I do not recognize. The comment section of my last post is a reflection of where we are at and it is .... tragic. I’m not quite sure when we became a world where a differing opinion equates to evil and hatred, but here we are. I am not advocating for people to stop wearing masks. I wear a mask most often. I don’t believe in their efficacy unless it’s of a certain caliber, yet I wear them. I am advocating critical thinking and civility. I am advocating personal responsibility. Cont. below

A post shared by Kerri Walsh Jennings 🌹 (@kerrileewalsh) on

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.

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