Masks Are Good, But . . .

Have you noticed the striking difference in the increased number of people who are wearing masks? Have you compared today’s numbers to those who wore them during the height of the COVID-19 drama? One possible reason is that masks are more available now than they were a month ago. Perhaps this is the reason why governors and community leaders are calling for citizens to wear them when they go into public settings.

This is an excellent opportunity for us to experiment with our own views on masks. Some people in the States will likely decide it is a good choice for them to always wear masks for their health and safety. There are populations, primarily in predominantly Asian countries, where it is common to see some people wearing them year-round. I hope this does not become the norm for us. But why?

Of course, health and safety are good reasons, particularly if a person has a compromised immune system and may be susceptible to illnesses carried by others. For the rest of us, however, here are my thoughts.

Having lived in some of the  countries mentioned above where it is common to wear masks, I noticed that over some time, you don’t see people who wear masks. There is something about covering part of the face that seems to cause the person to practically disappear from the casual scan of the crowd. I wondered why that might be. Is it just that I became accustomed to seeing some faces covered, and other faces still show facial features? Perhaps the answer is in the question.

Is it possible when we see a cover instead of a face, it makes the person seem less human to us? I noticed that it does take away the individuality of the masked person.  That is an essential part of being human – that of being an individual, distinguished from other people around us. Why else do bank robbers like to wear masks?

There can be benefits to this ability to walk around incognito. Still, what happens when we begin to see large numbers of people as being somehow less than human? How does it affect our perspective of our fellow life traveler? Naturally, the first thought for many will be, “I would never look at another person as less than human just because they wear a mask.” My response is, just wait until you have gotten used to seeing them. Then tell me whether you don’t notice the faces more than the covers.

Once you get to this point, how does this affect the way governments or leaders might look at masses of people in masks? Would there be any benefit to them for large numbers of people accepting a role as something less than individuals? Sheeple? Part of the mass instead of being actual people? If we begin to move in lockstep with groups instead of being responsible for ourselves, what happens to us in our own minds?

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