Throughout the pandemic, I was an ardent pro-masker. I wore a mask everywhere. I thought it was a way of protecting others from the virus. I had also hoped it would prevent me from infection, but it didn’t. Still, I wore it religiously.
With others, I celebrated in the spring when those masks could be left in the car. It was that return to normal we’d been hoping for.
Then we got the order in St. Louis to put them back on, since vaccinated people could still spread the Delta variant of COVID.
That didn’t sit too well with me.
Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of new infections are the unvaccinated. They have their reasons for refusing the needle. Those reasons make no sense to me.
Accordingly, when I was told that donning a mask would protect the anti-vaxxers, my response was, frankly, “So?” They have made their choice. They should bear the consequences. I was tired enough wearing a mask for months to protect others. Why, now, should I protect those who could immunize themselves but simply don’t? Let them accept the consequences of their inaction.
I became an anti-masker for reasons different from the original anti-maskers. It wasn’t because of “Don’t tell me what to do.” It was because “I’ve done what you told me to do. And now I won’t take responsibility for others when they don’t take responsibility for themselves. Let the chips fall where they may.”
In the days since the new mandate, other things have of course been brought forward that mellowed me a bit.
What about children and youth, who don’t have access to the vaccine and may risk infection? Or those who get the vaccine but aren’t fully protected because they have compromised immune systems? Well, yes, those are two good points for the mask.
And what about the growing number of COVID hospitalizations that put a strain on healthcare workers and may jeopardize services for others? Another good point.
But the biggest mellowing factor came from the realization that if Jesus walked among us today, he’d be wearing one.
After all, he did live by the Golden Rule, didn’t he? Do to others as you’d have them do to you. He never put restrictions on who those “others” were. You can’t love your neighbor as yourself as long as you pick who your neighbor is. We’re all brothers and sisters, he said, so we need to act like it. You might not like what some of your siblings do, but they are family, regardless.
Like some other things Jesus said, such instruction annoys me. I guess it’s supposed to. Sometimes it’s when we’re irritated by Jesus that we can be prodded by him to do the right thing, especially when it may not feel natural.
That right thing is to put on the mask again.
I simply can’t imagine Jesus walking around today without one.