Prairie View

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Mask Bashing

 If you're a Facebook friend, you may wish to skip this post since it duplicates something that I posted there.  I'm repeating it here at the suggestion of one of my readers. I'm omitting the names of those who commented, since I didn't ask their permission to post it here.  

I will post a followup to this conversation in a separate post (since I don't seem to be able to add it here).

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Mask Bashing is on my mind. Noting where the bashing comes from is part of my trying to sort out what is going on. In my admittedly rather limited personal experience with bashers, I think one or more of the following always applies: 1. They are not medical professionals. 2. They are aligned with right-leaning (or hard-right) political figures 3. They see independence as a virtue 4. They rely primarily on conservative media sources for information 5. They are not known for their personal moderation or patience. 6. They cloak the bashing in language of concern for "others" who they perceive as being harmed (despite the supposedly harmed not apparently feeling "harmed"--or the harm being documented). 7. They have limited knowledge of the rigorous standards for credible scientific research (and may cite or rely on evidence that doesn't "hold water"). 8. They have an adversarial view of government (i. e. OK to ignore--or even deliberately rebel against--as long as the consequences are not too onerous). 9. They accuse mask wearers of being fearful.
No one knows all that there is to know about mask wearing. If we did know all (as God does), I believe that responsible people would act in ways that are consistent with the nature of God. I'm thinking particularly of exercising patience, kindness, deference, and humility. At the very least, we would not be actively working to circumvent the orders of our government leaders and the advice of those who are experts in epidemiology and infectious diseases.


  • I was recently in conversation with an extended family member from out of state. In the course of things, he remarked in a scoffing manner at the measures some churches are taking such as mask wearing and that his church does not engage in such silliness. 

    In almost the next breath, he mentioned in passing that it is his churches' practice to lock the doors during the service.  Why?  To prevent entry by an active shooter.  "You just don't know what might happen these days."  

    I am still in awe over the inconsistencies between those behaviors.

    • So maybe your out-of-state relative might fall into more than one category? Just guessing.

  • I recently conversed with a family member who has cousins in Oklahoma. One died from COVID. Others came unmasked to the funeral. Soon another one died and many got sick.

    • So far our community has not had deaths attributable to spread at funerals, despite widespread attendance by unmasked individuals. I hope it stays that way, but if it does, I'll be surprised.

  • Thank you for sharing. None of us knows in any current experience all that there is to know. Therefore, we need Jesus to show us the way to go. In a long while from now, things might be clearer about 2020. I pray for courage to walk His Way.

  • As I was reading #8, Romans 13:1-6 came to mind. How does one reconcile these 2 streams of thought?

  • Thank you Miriam for your well chosen words of observation combined with grace and compassion!

  • I think there’s one more category unless I read your post too quickly and missed it. Deep seated fear of traditional medicine and /or doctors and who frequently first(or always) tend to self diagnose/treat with alternative medicine.

    • Yes! That category absolutely belongs on the list. When I posted, I almost invited others to add things I missed, but I couldn't think of a way of doing so without making it longer and more cumbersome. I'm glad that you intuited the invitation and commented.

    • I wish that fear was not real for some. It's true that our medical system is based on the treatment of symptoms and doesn't often approach things from a "root cause" standpoint, but I believe God gives us wisdom. We do not need to live in fear. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Thank you, Miriam, for writing this.

  • The key word here is "bashing." This is an area where there can be legitimate differences of opinion of reasonable dialog, and I've observed some of that (not as much as I'd like) by people who do not fit your description above. But when it comes to the bashers, yeah, pretty apt description.
    I also have anti-mask bashers in my acquaintance, though not as many as the mask bashers, and I am saddened by that as well.

    • I think another key word in the mask discussions is "mandate." People who use "preference" or "inconvenience" as reasons for disobeying a mandate seem to me to be displaying something other than "reasonable dialog" or "legitimate differences of opinion."
      One of the conundrums in this matter is that some people whose health is already compromised such that mask wearing is problematic are the very people who most need protection from infection. Since they can't take the initiative of wearing masks, they really need those around them to take the initiative. Turning a blind eye (or a bare face) toward such people seems inconsiderate at best. I'm pretty confident that you will not find mask bashers in the compromised-health population. Most likely, they will have no choice but to stay out of circulation completely or suffer dire consequences.
      " . . . people who do not fit your description above . . ." Are you saying that these people do not fit into ANY of the categories above? I don't think I've ever heard from any such anti-mask people. If you have, I think I'd like names! On the other hand, I'm not sure that I've met anyone who fits into ALL of the categories I listed, but a few people come pretty close. Some of them are people I actually really like.
  • I think I should perhaps have added one additional category to my list: They are American. I say that without knowing a great deal about some other countries. What I know of Japan, however, leads me to believe that they would find our mask protests completely ludicrous. Mask-wearing has been part of their practice for a long time--done voluntarily in public by anyone who has so much as a sniffle. Because they are polite, they would likely express it in milder terms--as being baffled, for example.


    • Thank you for your thoughtful posts. I appreciate your tone.

      I am a mask-wearer living in Asia. Many people wear masks here, but many others do not. The decision in either direction is likely a combination of perceived risk, influence from their social circles, and probably what is convenient/comfortable.

      Several thoughts for followers of Christ:
      * If there is a government mandate, then this is a Romans 13 issue ("Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities").
      * Where our decisions impact others, 13:10 applies ("Love does no harm to a neighbor.")
      * In our attitudes towards others, Romans 14 applies ("You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt?")

      I have been stunned by the contempt that I have seen on both sides, but I have also found it in my own heart and in my own words. I think it's worth reading Romans 14 in our fellowships and inserting "wearing masks" where it talks about eating meat (though I'm not sure actually which side has weak faith!). I do think there are legitimate issues to discuss, but it should be that the other side feels our love and respect regardless of how deeply we disagree with them.

      When looking at the issue, it's also helpful to realize that this is not primarily an issue of fear vs faith, but an issue of risk perception. If you think COVID is not a big deal, it's not dramatic faith to go on as if it doesn't exist. If you do think COVID is a significant risk (either for yourself or others), it may be love, not fear, that motivates you to take action.

      By Anonymous E.M., at 9/20/2020  

    • Thanks so much, E.M. for these insights. Every paragraph contained a significant idea worth contemplating. On the matter of risk perception, my thought is that we do well to be completely transparent about our own experiences with COVID-19. I simply can't think of any good reason to keep secrets on this matter. Openness helps motivate us to pray for those who are struggling--or not struggling, but who still need to exercise caution, and others should exercise caution around such a oerson. A recovered person is worth rejoicing over. Keeping things secret prevents the group from sharing in this rejoicing. These things all help us form a realistic assessment of risk. The person who can't taste or smell anything for weeks on end (but seems recovered otherwise), the person whose low-grade fever hangs on for a very long time, or the extreme exhaustion that dogs many days after the worst symptoms are gone-- people with those symptoms are worth supporting too, even in the midst of rejoicing that the illness was not serious enough to require hospitalization.

      Another risk related to COVID-19 is the risk of a huge hit to our brotherhood aid plans. It doesn't take many days in an ICU to rack up an exorbitant bill. Mask wearing to protect our pocket books might not be the most noble motivation, but a financial burden laid on the backs of others (when it could possibly have been prevented by taking more care) does not seem kind.

      Because COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus in humans, there is still much that no one knows. Couple this with all virus' tendency to morph over time, and risk assessment must be considered a moving target. If we are as humble as we ought to be, we will recognize this and be willing to update our perceptions as new information becomes available. Staying informed on the developing story may not be the duty of all, but it's a reasonable goal to take new developments into account in our thinking and practice.

      I don't have a well-developed understanding of this, but I truly believe that non-drug ways of resisting infection with COVID-19 (and other ailments) exist. I base this on what I know about the nature of God (His care for all--especially for those with limited resources), the marvels in His creation (prevention and remedies from special properties of plants), plus the grace, mercy, and wisdom of God that can be accessed by those who cry out to Him. Yes, we often benefit from pharaceutical drugs, but they should be thought of as crutches, not a panacea for all ills. I would love to see more young people commit to a career path that would explore and share this approach to health care. Maybe you know some such young person.

      I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Blessings!

      By Blogger Miriam Iwashige, at 9/21/2020  

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