This article will be anecdotal and stems from a few observations I have made within the last week as concerns the wearing of face masks. It is not meant to be a medical recommendation, which means that I cannot be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. Note: I do not wear a face mask anywhere, except for the rare occasions when I am required to in order to purchase materials during the course of my employment. At those times, I put it on to get what I need and immediately take it off as soon as (or even before) I leave the store premises. There are times when we have to act as if we are spies in the enemy camp. Wisdom is knowing the difference.
- I had to walk the streets of Missoula the other day for a few blocks–maskless, of course, even though most of the other people on the sidewalks had their “face diapers” on. In every instance, when I met someone and deliberately tried to make eye contact with them, they invariably looked somewhere else, refusing to meet my glance. I got the distinct impression that these people were sad, deeply sad, about their plight, yet they would not do what was necessary to alleviate the situation. It was almost as if they had become resigned to it. Be safe, be sad! It would be easy to sneer at these people or to be contemptuous of them, but I feel compassion for them because they are enslaved to an attitude and cannot break free from it. In this respect, I hope that I am following the example (Matthew 9:36) set by Jesus, Who felt compassion for the masses because He saw their condition.
- I was in a local grocery store, Super 1 in Stevensville, this morning. The requisite signs are posted on the doors which state that face masks are required for entry. Just a few days ago, I noticed the store had put up a large sign which read, “Please wear a face mask while shopping”. This sounds to me like desperation. The managers of this store know that they cannot antagonize its customers by refusing service to anyone who doesn’t wear a mask, so they resort to begging. Poor fellows! They are caught between a rock and a hard place. I have compassion for them, but also know that, sooner or later, they will have to make a decision–either go all in on the mask mandate or scrap it completely. My advice to them: Screw up your courage and tell the county Health (?) Dept. where to go.
- While shopping in Super 1, I saw that most people were wearing the mask, but there were a large number who were not. One of these “rebels”, a young woman with two children blocked my path for a moment and apologized. I replied that it was nice to see a smiling, friendly face for a change, at which she smiled broadly, agreed with me, and wished me a “Merry Christmas.” A few minutes later, I passed another young woman, a casual acquaintance who was not wearing a mask. We smiled and waved at each other and went on our merry way. Both these instances left me with a feeling of pleasure and good will.
- I also had a little interaction with an infant who could sit in the cart without help, probably around a year old. She was a pretty little girl who did not wear the mask even though both her parents present did. They would not look at me or acknowledge my presence, but she did. In fact, this girl locked onto my eyes and would not look away. This happened on two different occasions and each time, I met her gaze directly, wrinkling my nose, batting my eyes, and smiling at her. She needed it. Chances are that most of the adults she knows do not allow her to see their faces, depriving her of necessary education at reading emotions and expressions of other people. What indeed are we teaching our children? Too many of them have spent the last year in “school” without the opportunity to learn what they need to know to be successful in life. This is shameful on the part of the parents and will come back to bite society in a few years.
- On the side of the road north of Florence is a flashing digital sign which was placed there under the auspices of Ravalli County Health Dept. Originally it had the message that read, “Wear a Mask. Face Masks Save Lives!” Someone unknown vandalized it with spray paint. (I must admit. The thought crossed my mind, but somebody beat me to it. I would have just “masked” it with a sheet.) Recently, the message has been changed so that it now reads, “Be Safe. Be Kind.” Such a sappy, sentimental, unthinking, progressive type of mantra. Unfortunately for the authors, they do not realize that what they are trying to convey is actually Christian in nature. Kindness is a Christian attribute and is given to others freely in a spirit of love. It cannot be forced. If it is, then it is no longer kindness, but obedience to the rule. Very unChristian, in other words. This is really nothing more than a repeating of Frederich Neitschze, who said that, “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet.” Who are these people who are ordering us to be kind by exhorting and requiring us to cover our faces with a bit of cloth or paper which has absolutely no effect on the transmission of a virus? Christian? I strongly doubt that. More likely, an appeal to the power-hungry among us.
This, too, shall pass. God, please give me the strength and courage I need to live and breathe free until it does. Amen and Amen!
Postscript: There is nothing more beautiful in this world than a woman smiling at those around her. There is nothing more ugly than putting a mask on it.