To mask or not to mask? That’s the question many of us are constantly asking ourselves as we go about our days in various public and non-public spaces, right? Does this store require masks? What about this restaurant or salon? Sure there’s a sign (there’s usually a sign), but will they really enforce it? What about a trip to the park or the local biking trail? Will you be accosted by some mask-shaming Karen if you go for a walk outside?
Even for those of us who know it’s mostly nonsense, the sense of others’ negative perception can be real, especially if you live in an area where most people are wearing them (thankfully, I do not). Certainly, no normal person wants to give any sickness, much less coronavirus, to anyone else if they can help it. Nevertheless, a significant percentage of people believe the latest “precaution” our overlords want to force us to take - forced universal masking - is, for the many reasons I listed last week and more, a bridge too far (although I also would agree that there are limited situations and places where masks might still be appropriate).
As the debate rages, most pro-universal masking arguments can be fairly easily countered. Most. But one of the more effective, yet frustrating, arguments mask proponents use, particularly those leftists and liberal Christians who know how to conveniently turn a Bible phrase to make their own point, is that wearing masks is all about “loving your neighbor.”
“I wear my mask to protect you, and you wear your mask to protect me,” about a zillion people with newly-masked Twitter profiles sanctimoniously proclaim. What a “good person” they must think they are, and they want to make sure everyone else knows it too. You can almost see the syrup dripping from their voices as they say the words with a condescending, self-righteous smirk, as if their position makes them somehow morally superior to everyone who disagrees.
Even in my (mostly) anti-mask stance, I’ve always contended that nobody’s choice on whether to wear a mask or not should be ridiculed. But these folks don’t take that position. Instead, by insisting that mask-wearing is all about loving one’s neighbor, they can’t help but imply, even if they don’t mean to, that those who avoid wearing masks do not, well, love their neighbors. And that implied charge can be difficult to deal with because most people, deep down, want to be perceived by others as a ‘good person.’ Whether Christian or not, most of us want to love others well and be reciprocated in kind, and the desire to avoid public scorn is a powerful motivator that doubtless forces many to comply with the mask-wearing nonsense despite reality, science, and common sense.
In order to come anywhere close to “loving one’s neighbor,” it stands to reason that mask wearing would need to, 1.) actually work, 2.) actually protect against a clear and present serious danger, and 3.) not be dangerous in any way to the wearer. Last week, I addressed and provided multiple resources pointing to evidence for why it doesn’t meet any of those criteria.
In life, at least if you’re not a leftist, some things are simply wrong or right. For example, it’s morally wrong to steal, rape, or commit murder. But there are also shades of nuance around our moral standards. It’s wrong to ‘hate’ your neighbor, of course, but what exactly does ‘loving’ your neighbor entail? If your neighbor refuses to work, should you feed them or pay their rent over and over to the detriment of your own family? Now, let’s really jump in. If your neighbor has an unfounded, irrational belief, is it “loving” to cater to that belief by pretending it’s real? As an extreme example, say your neighbor believes that zombie cats have taken over the planet and not only refuses to come outside but thinks the only way to keep them at bay is for everyone to shave their head. Should you shave your head? It’s a simple thing, really, when it comes down to it. It would cost you very little. So, should you? The answer, obviously, is no, because catering to irrational beliefs just gives credence to fear and other damages such beliefs can cause.
Today, of course, we find ourselves in a situation where most people seem to believe the coronavirus is something akin to the black plague. That percentage is thankfully declining as people wake up and begin to question our overlords, in no small part thanks to their recent contention that this ‘woke’ virus is apparently down with Black Lives Matter but not with demonstrations to keep business owners’ kids fed. Who knew?
But still, there are plenty of people whose fears of this virus, though justified at first, are clearly irrational and unwarranted. I’m obviously not talking about the elderly and medically vulnerable, but I am referring to a hefty percentage of 99.5 percent of the population that believes the virus is dangerous to them when it’s not. They also now think that wearing a cloth face covering, something the New England Journal of Medicine has clearly said is little more than a “talisman,” will adequately protect society from this “plague.”
With no vaccine coming anytime soon, if ever, are we as a society really ready to accept in-and-out lockdowns, forever-masking and all the negative societal and economic ramifications those things bring? If this were the literal plague, or smallpox, or another disease that wiped out significant chunks of the population, perhaps so. But simply put, this virus isn’t nearly as serious as we were led initially to belief. The average coronavirus age of death is higher than the average human lifespan and, even more telling, the virus poses no more risk to those under 65 than the flu. Here’s an idea, for starters. Instead of shuttering businesses and masking every man, woman, and child in America from here until God knows when, how about protecting nursing homes and giving the elderly and those with comorbidities the resources to wear a mask - if they wish - that actually protects them in places where they can’t social distance?
When asked whether you’re “loving your neighbor” by not wearing a mask, you should ask the questioner whether "loving your neighbor" involves continuing to encourage the ongoing yet completely unnecessary national panic and continuing to give credence to would-be tin-pot dictators who want to run our lives and wreck their economies to own Drumpf? Ask them what "loving your neighbor" has to do with pretending something works when it doesn't, or with giving them a useless security blanket to protect against something that, odds are, they won't get anyway and will easily survive if they do? How does “loving your neighbor” involve continuing to participate in what this entire coronavirus response has been - a sham?
Finally, ask them just how many "neighbor” lives have been destroyed by these draconian, overbearing lockdowns? It would be awesome if our overlords showed some love for them, but they're too busy doing power grabs and taking selfies with protest attendees.
Follow Scott on Twitter @SKMorefield