Masking our humanity

Recent NPR and Yahoo! News articles addressed the supposed “debate” over whether Americans should continue to wear masks, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, in perpetuity, until the sun expires.

The NPR article touched on the fact that it appears illnesses other than COVID-19 have been less prevalent since mask wearing was mandated in most areas of the U.S. This shouldn’t be a surprise, though it has little or nothing to do with mask wearing. People have been locked down, prevented from going outside and mingling with other humans or even going to their workplaces for longer than the mask mandates have been in effect. Additionally, people have been urged to wash their hands longer and more frequently than most ever did before and to avoid touching their mouth, eyes, nose and ears with their hands. Moreover, everything in every retail outlet and office setting— virtually every public and private space really-- has been disinfected countless times every day and hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available everywhere.

The Yahoo!News article was headlined “Should we keep wearing masks after the pandemic ends?” even though not one of the U.S. experts cited advocated for regular mask wearing to outlast the pandemic. In fact, one of the “experts” strongly recommended against continued mask wearing, saying that the drawbacks and risks of so doing, including “annoyance, stunted communication, acne” and the likelihood that “even small amounts of microplastic inhalation” could be detrimental to one’s health, outweigh any possible benefit.

It is hard to fathom that there is any kind of serious debate about perpetual mask wearing. Is permanently giving up our humanity worth the remote possibility that we may catch fewer colds and contract fewer other illnesses? Shall we remain faceless and afraid forever? If so, what will this do to future generations, the development of their brains, outlook, and social skills? It will literally alter what it means to be human. Instead of seeing ourselves as being created in God’s image, we will see ourselves chiefly as potential virus transmitters, spreaders of disease, and objects to be avoided.

Think of the time you first saw your baby smile. The time your spouse first told you he or she loved you. The look on your child’s face after he or she scored the winning goal.

Would Rick and Ilsa’s scenes in “Casablanca” have been just as poignant if they had both been wearing masks?

Would Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” painting be just as impactful if she had been wearing a facial diaper? And, if his subjects were wearing a mask, would it have altered our perception of “The last Supper?”

What would Jesus say?

Not that we could hear him through His mask.

Photo credit: Livesore

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