To mask, or not to mask — that is the question

As a nation, we are still reeling and trying to come to grips with the fact that we live in a new reality. It is taking a steep toll on our mental and physical health, and affecting how we treat each other. We mourn for our used-to-be lives, and finally realize how many blessings we had and took for granted.

Trying to figure out the best way to function in this viral twilight zone has thrown our nation out of sync. So many are suffering from the virus, or fear of the virus. We are also suffering from the worsening economy and loss of jobs and incomes, as well as hopes and dreams. We are nervous about what our immediate as well as our long-term future holds. So much of our news is disheartening and contradictory at best, with so many differing opinions among our leaders and experts.

As more entities started to tentatively open back up during Phase II this past week, we were advised by the CDC and our lawmakers that we need to be especially cautious during this trial period. Gov. Abbot said, “The CDC is continuing to work with state, tribal, local and territorial leaders to provide technical assistance and resources that can help support decisions about how Americans begin to re-engage in civic life while adhering to mitigation strategies such as social distancing, hand-washing and wearing face coverings.”

However, as we have probably all observed, his directive is not being taken seriously by many. There are many more maskless people out there than masked people. Go to any store or business in town and you can see that.

I have friends on both sides of the mask spectrum. We value our relationships more than we value trying to convince each other that we are right, so we don’t talk about it, just like with politics. In fact, we avoid it like the plague. Oh wait...that’s the problem here. Some of us do consciously try to avoid the plague, and some of us don’t see it as a big deal.

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to write about this, but when something can literally make the difference between life and death, it’s worth it.

The CDC has made it clear and simple: When we wear a mask, we are protecting others around us more than we are protecting ourselves. In turn, when others wear a mask, they are protecting us. It’s kind of like a football team working together. If one player doesn’t do what he is supposed to do, it affects the whole team. It takes all of us working together to keep each other safe and hopefully lower the virus spread.

Still, I read on social media and hear people say almost every day, “I’m not wearing a mask because I’m not afraid of getting the virus.” Even if you’re not afraid of getting it, you should be concerned about possibly passing it on to someone else. We’ve heard of how many people can have the virus and are asymptomatic, or develop the virus shortly after they’ve been around someone and exposed them. Then that person passes it on to some of their family and friends, and possibly someone dies because they are in a high-risk category. I would hate to be the person responsible for that when a mask could have made a difference.

I’ve also heard some people say they want to go for “herd immunity.” This May 21 article addresses the danger of that mindset: “Some have argued it could happen naturally as the virus makes its way through our communities, but without a vaccine to supercharge immunization, infectious disease experts point out that any pursuit of herd immunity through natural infection could come at a tremendous cost. Allowing many people to get sick quickly could cause a spike in infections that could place enormous stress on the healthcare system, and many people would die.”

During this difficult time there is a very important question we all need to be asking ourselves, and I haven’t heard anyone ask it yet: What would Jesus have us do?

It’s a game-changer: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Ultimately, this issue shouldn’t be about anyone’s “freedoms,” but about caring for and helping each other. That’s what Americans do, or used to.

To mask or not to mask – that is the question. But it shouldn’t be.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,

but also to the interests of others.

– Philippians 2:4

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