I don’t mind wearing a mask. I don’t like it, but I don’t mind it all that much. I hate the fact that it’s necessary (and, yeah, it IS actually necessary), but it’s a relatively small inconvenience. I have maybe a half dozen masks, all of which were given to me by friends. When I have to put one on, it’s a reminder that there are folks out there who care about me. I like that.
That’s the reason we wear the masks — because we care about other people. Because we’re not selfish dicks. We wear masks because this is a public health issue; not a political one, not a religious one, not a cultural one. Comrade Trump and his followers seem determined to make it into all three.
Politically, they say it’s about Democrats wanting to scare the public, wanting to hurt the economy in order to damage Trump’s chance for re-election. Which is profoundly stupid. Like everybody else, I want to go back to pubs and coffee shops. I want to go to the movies. I want to stroll through the crowds at the farmer’s market, and linger over the counter of the pastry shop, and spend a few idle hours at the art center, and wander through the aisles of the market. I miss all that.
But the only way we’re going to be able to safely do that stuff again is if we wear masks for a while — until we can get a handle on Covid-19. Which we are NOT going to do if we don’t do more actual testing, if we don’t do contact tracing, and if we don’t wear the goddamn masks.
In terms of religion, they suggest Democrats want to keep churches closed in order to…I don’t know what. Something Satanic, I suppose. But we’ve seen that houses of worship are now the most common source of new Covid-19 outbreaks. That’s true internationally. Prayer alone is a poor prophylactic against viruses. The only way folks will be able to safely return to church is — well, again, testing, contact tracing, and wearing masks. If a divine being exists, he or she or it should be able to hear prayers said through a mask.
Culturally, wearing a mask gets passed through a filter of absurd masculinity and phony notions of heroism. Those folks standing together in crowds, mask-free, shouting about tyranny and mocking mask-wearing reporters — they see themselves as heroes. They see themselves as William Wallace (or at least Mel Gibson and his hair in Braveheart) shouting ‘Freedom!’ (they seem to forget he’s beheaded immediately afterwards). They see themselves as a Band of Brothers (the television mini-series about WWII, not that poofy Shakespeare St. Crispin’s Day bullshit), courageously displaying their willingness to stare a virus down and show it who’s boss. Wearing a mask, they think, is cowardly. A mask is a white flag of surrender to…something. Mask-Nazis.
It’s not cowardly to wear a mask when you buy groceries. It’s not cowardly to wear a mask when you’re burying your brothers-in-arms. It’s not brave to wear a mask either. It’s just being respectful. It’s just being a good citizen, a decent person. It’s just looking out for other folks in your community. It’s just good public health and common sense.
Wearing a mask is about not being a dick. Don’t be a dick. Wear a mask.