The mask controversy

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One can find alleged evidence for just about anything on the internet and on social media. As I once read on Facebook: “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Signed, Abraham Lincoln.“

It’s often very difficult to separate the wheat from the weeds and it seems that nearly everyone who posts anything has an agenda. So, I thought I’d share about something on which everyone agrees: Masks.

Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. People are lining up and taking sides on mask wearing like it was Auburn vs. Alabama — except that advocates of the Crimson Tide and the Tigers are much more civil and reasonable with each other.

Some are separated on political lines. “The government is trying to control us” argument which others hotly dispute. Some are even divided upon theological lines with some believing mask wearing is the righteous and Christ-like thing to do while others see it as a slippery slope toward the Anti-Christ and the dominion of evil. It would all be so silly and ridiculous if the results weren’t so tragic.

Not only are total strangers going after each other on social media and even in the supermarkets, where people have actually been accosted, but friendships are being torn asunder and families ripped apart.

And, no, I’m not exaggerating, not even a little bit. This isn’t 1860 where brothers fought against brothers in a great Civil War with the fate of a nation hanging in the balance … the current separation and division is about people losing their minds, friends, and families over wearing/not wearing masks!

My wife and I wear masks in public and I’ll explain why in a moment. But first of all, let me state that I really don’t care who does and does not wear a mask in most instances.

A few questions, please: Why do we lock our doors at night or when we leave the house? Why do we wear seat belts when we drive? Why do some people obtain weapons licenses and carry concealed firearms? Why, if we are able, do we purchase health insurance?

It is highly unlikely that the vast majority will endure a home invasion or even a burglary. Most people who drive a car will not have a fatal accident in their lifetime. It is highly unlikely that people with concealed weapons will ever have to defend their lives. At any given moment, most people are healthy and not suffering from a catastrophic disease. Then why all this?

Because, as unlikely as it is to have any or all these things happen to us, we realize that it is prudent to take reasonable precautions in the event that the unlikely actually occurs.

We lock our doors, we buckle our seat belts, we (who are so inclined) obtained a carry permit, and we care a great deal about health insurance. And, even if it were not required by law or the banks, the overwhelming majority of us would still buy auto and home insurance. And that does not even include life insurance that people purchase in the, again, unlikely event they die young and leave a young spouse and small children behind. The term is “reasonable precaution.”

This is why we wear a mask. My wife has four degrees in nursing, including a Ph.D., and (after she married me) never made less than an “A” in any of her courses. She is one of the smartest people I know. Her brother is a physician with a specialty in infectious diseases. The church I serve has several retired or active medical folks who I trust. I also have colleagues who work inside the two local hospitals and who are well aware of the coronavirus situation.

Even if I had no other sources, (which I do) I would trust these people. They tell me that my wearing a mask may protect me but it very likely will help to protect others, especially the elderly and vulnerable, from catching the virus if I unknowingly have it, am not symptomatic, and am “shedding the virus.” We do it as a reasonable precaution against the unlikely.

We also do it because we actually care about the people around us. As someone asked me recently about people who refuse to wear masks, “Where is the love?” She was specifically referring to Christians who are supposed to be imitators of Christ.

One man, who wears a mask and, by the way is a patriot, a veteran, and a very manly guy, wrote on my social media page a few days ago, “They (the people who refuse to wear masks because they see it as intrusive) have phones that spy on them, home computers that spy on them, remotely accessible power meters and thermostats, unsecured baby monitors, an increasingly digital economy and they’re going to plant their freedom flag on a mask that may protect our vulnerable populations? … Suck it up, be nice, and help keep our vulnerable populations if you can find it in your heart to do it.” People on both sides have strong opinions.

We do not require masks to attend church. We do provide masks at no cost to those who wish to wear one. We also provide hand sanitizer and practice social distancing. There is one exception to the mask rule.

Our clergy who serve Holy Eucharist, or Communion, every Sunday must wear a mask during the six or eight minutes it takes to serve the people. They are within one-and-a-half feet of the people when they administer the bread and wine, so they wear the masks. It is not optional. Again, it’s about reasonable precautions against something that is possible but probably unlikely to occur.

Do I personally buy into the allegation that this is all a government plot to rob people of their liberty? Frankly, I don’t think the government is capable of doing much of anything well that requires broad-based political cooperation.

I do think the government, especially state and local governments, tend to over-reach their authority as demonstrated by politicians across the country, but, no, I think the idea that a mask will lead to a One World Government is silly. I could be wrong.

After all, there are people who seem normal who believe that the Holocaust didn’t happen, that 9/11 was a hoax and our own government killed over 3,000 U. S. citizens, that we never landed on the moon, that socialism/communism are great forms of government, that the slaves were happy and contented, and that the world is flat. I could be wrong about all those things too.

Those are reasons why we wear a mask. If someone chooses not to, as far as I am concerned, that’s their business. There’s no law at present in Georgia that requires it, although some businesses can and do require customers to mask up. It’s still America, for now at least, and people have certain freedoms. We all want to exercise our rights … back off and allow others to exercise their rights, as well.

There are enough real issues in the nation without losing family and friends over who does or does not wear a mask. The coronavirus will eventually be gone. The masks will eventually be gone. It would be a tragedy if our relationships with those we care about are gone too.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the crisis, the church is live streaming at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays at http://www.facebook.com/cctksharpsburg/ He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South He may contacted at davidepps@ctk.life.]

4 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, there are two sides to this argument about masks: the stupid and the informed. Science and data tells us to wear a mask to control Covid-19, and that’s what we should do. I just returned from the northeast, where nearly everyone wears masks. It’s no coincidence that the virus is controlled there. In the South, we have people who like to parade in T-shirts with the American flag, professing how they are such patriots. If you’re a patriot, where a mask! If you care about your fellow Americans, wear a mask! If you care about controlling this pandemic, wear a mask!

    • Actually there are a few sides in play here; the informed, the misinformed, the insouciant, and the uncompromising. I believe you are addressing the latter two as not having that true American spirit. You know, physical and mental toughness, along with selfless sacrifice that one needs when dealing with an “invisible enemy” that breached our shores. As for the misinformed, well that may be a conscious decision as well.

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      Yes, there are two sides to this argument about masks: the stupid and the informed. Science and data tells us to wear a mask to control Covid-19, and that’s what we should do. I just returned from the northeast, where nearly everyone wears masks. It’s no coincidence that the virus is controlled there. In the South, we have people who like to parade in T-shirts with the American flag, professing how they are such patriots. If you’re a patriot, wear a mask! If you care about your fellow Americans, wear a mask! If you care about controlling this pandemic, wear a mask!