Mask requirements are one of the worst things that have ever been adopted in our society. Some will read that and think that I am excessively exaggerating. The point of this reflection will be to show that I am not exaggerating, and to try and open your eyes to the destruction that is happening through mask requirements. In order to do this I will have to lay some groundwork. It will take me a little while to get to the point, but bear with me and you will understand why I had to go this route.
First, we need to understand what a human is. The initial response to the arrival of Covid-19 was entirely guided by bodily health. Every measure taken was strictly about preventing people from getting sick. Lockdowns, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and masks were all implemented with this objective. The only factor that was ever considered was whether people will get sick or not, at least regarding broad scale policies. There were certainly individuals who looked at things differently, but that is irrelevant for the moment. The point I am trying to make is that as a whole, our society reacted to Covid-19 in a way that specifically addressed physical health and nothing else. There were no other factors taken into consideration. Why is that important? It’s an approach to solving the problem that is fundamentally flawed in its view of the human person. A human is not just a body. A human is not just a mind. A human is a mind, body, soul composite, and exists in a living ecosystem that is connected through a variety of relationships with each other and with other living creatures. Therefore, an approach that solely focuses on bodily health ignores the existence of all the other aspects of human life such as the mind, the soul, the economy, and the environment, and therefore is fundamentally flawed. Taking measures based on this perspective may help address the specific thing that is being targeted in the short term, but only by causing distressing consequences in all the other areas of life in the long term, consequences much greater than the disease itself. I’m not saying this to blame anyone. The arrival of Covid-19 was an unprecedented event in our generation. We didn’t exactly know what to do about it. Yet, that is itself another reason not to use a blanket approach that addresses only bodily health. If you are learning something new, you don’t just do the first thing you think of and stick with it to the bitter end. You try different things and see what works best. Still, this is not the main point I’m trying to make. We have to go deeper first.
Let’s talk about the body. As I stated above, we are not just a body. That would be objectification. Our body is an integral aspect of who we are, but it is not the only part of who we are. Our body is intricately knitted together with our mind and our soul. Therefore, our bodies express who we are. They are a reflection of our mind and our soul in the physical dimension. The body is what allows us to communicate and to form relationships. It is the physical manifestation of who we are. So, what does this have to do with wearing masks? Let’s direct our focus to the face specifically. Our face is the seat of our identity. It is the very place we identify one another. If you were to go out to a busy marketplace right now, what is the first thing you would notice? Faces. Your eyes would immediately start scanning for faces. If there was someone there that you knew, you would instantly be able to recognize that you knew them by looking at their face. Again, our faces are the seat of our identity. Think of your driver’s license if you have one. Is there a picture of your hands or your feet on it? Is there a picture of your car on it? There is a picture of your face because it instantly identifies you.
Let me tell a funny short story I once heard in order to further illustrate this point. Two guys, Ted and Jerry, were out by a lake. They had just been at a wedding and they were wearing tuxedos. It was a hot day and so Ted suggested that a swim in the lake would certainly be nice. Jerry said, “Do you want to do it?” Ted replied, “We’re wearing tuxedos.” Jerry continued, “Well, let’s take them off. We’re in a deserted place. No one is going to see us.” Ted agreed and so they both stripped naked and dove into the lake. As they were enjoying the cool water, a bus full of people drove up by the shore. There was no way for Ted and Jerry to grab their clothes without being seen and time was running out because it was obvious that the people on the bus would be getting out soon. So Ted and Jerry decided that on the count of three, they would get out and make a run for it. Together they counted, “One. Two. Three!” They both jumped up out of the water. Ted was using his hands to cover his genitals, but when he looked over, he saw Jerry was covering his face. Ted exclaimed, “Jerry, what are you doing!? People are going to see you naked!” Jerry replied, “Yeah, but at least they won’t know who I am.”
This leads me to my next point. Identity is vitally important to living a happy and fulfilling human life. When we know who we are and have a strong sense of identity, our lives go much better than when we don’t. We are able to live with purpose and understand that we have value. We are able to make decisions and enter into relationships with others. Identity is vitally important to human flourishing. That’s why people with identity disorders suffer so greatly. When one has a weak or distorted sense of identity, they have all kinds of issues. They often feel worthless and alone. They may have a hard time making decisions and defer everything to other people. They endure an incredible amount of suffering because they don’t understand who they are or why they are here. You might be starting to put the pieces together as to why masking is so horrible. When we force people to cover their faces, we are forcing them to hide their identity. That might not be the intention of the requirements, but it is the result. And when you force people to hide their identity, you subtly insinuate that their identity is bad or that they don’t have one.
The way mask requirements were implemented in response to Covid-19 was specifically associated with disease and death. “If you don’t wear a mask, people will die.” But going back to my earlier point about the human person, we are not just a body. By forcing people to wear masks everywhere, it strips them of their identity, and causes them great emotional and spiritual trauma. Someone will surely counter that if you aren’t alive then your identity doesn’t matter anyways. That’s true. However, it also assumes that masks are actually effective at preventing sickness and that everyone benefits from that protection in the exact same way. It also doesn’t take into consideration whether a universal mask requirement is a proportionate response to the problem. Wearing a helmet to protect yourself from getting a concussion is effective and proportionate for someone playing football, but it would be absurd to make everyone else wear a helmet at all times and in every situation. It would actually cause a lot of problems for some people or in certain situations. Why would it be different with masks?
Mask requirements are no small thing. They are dehumanizing our society on a massive scale, and further exasperating identity issues that are already so prevalent. Depression, anxiety, crime, and suicide have skyrocketed in the past two years. Children are facing inhibited speech and social development due to the lack of facial feedback caused by masks. That doesn’t even take into consideration whether the masks are effective or not, whether the disease is dangerous enough to stop it at any cost, or whether the restriction of freedom is worth the implementation of mask requirements. Regardless of those things, the massive scale identity suppression that has happened through mask requirements is alarming and could lead to some disastrous long-term consequences. There is a reason why the word “hypocrite” originated with a word describing stage actors who wore masks.
William Joseph Scheremet