The Honor Blog
Today is: Mar 22, 2023
Post From: Jan 16, 2022
About a week ago, the Douglas County Health director imposed a mask mandate on the City of Omaha. Many aspects of that decision have been debated in public - the legal character of the mandate, whether it will be effective from a practical and medical point of view, and what the mandate reveals about the willingness of Americans to submit to authority are amongst those.
Those are interesting topics, but I want to use this space to address a different question. I think we should ask "Why?" What is the motivation for imposing a mask mandate?
The answer, expressed succinctly, is fear. The people demanding mask mandates are afraid of the spread of COVID. They are afraid of the virus, afraid they will get sick, afraid their loved ones will get sick.
Note that at this point I have not offered any thoughts on whether that fear is justified or rational or reasonable. At this point, I simply want the motivation to be identified accurately: people who support mask mandates are doing so out of fear.
Of course, truly understanding a decision requires that it be examined from the other side, as well. Therefore, we must ask what motivates those who resist mask mandates.
That answer is a little bit more difficult to articulate, because it touches on things which are not tangible. People who object to masks point out that masks have a terribly negative effect on communication, not just because they impede speech, but because they prevent people from seeing changes in expression, deny the use of non-verbal cues, and disconnect humans from one another.
In short, people who oppose mask mandates do so because masks are de-humanizing. Masks weaken the connections between people, interfere with the development of relationships, and erode mental and emotional health.
There it is in a nutshell: As you assess your own reaction to mask mandates, bear in mind that what you really are trying to balance is your fear of physical, material illness against the spiritual, human cost of isolating people from one another.
For myself, I am decisively on the side of building relationships and emotional connections.