Masks are documented to have been in use as far back as 7000 BC. They come from a time when the unity of thought and feeling in a community was beginning to divide into opposite realms.
The state of consciousness and reason was being adopted to facilitate the building of civilizations. The development of a rational perspective required the division of the awareness of ourselves as individuals and as a community into two competing parts.
What used to be a whole became sets of opposites beginning with the notion of light and darkness that a newborn first faces at the beginning of life. To the degree that we became sophisticated and “civilized” we traveled farther away from our original wholeness.
Today, we are so estranged from our original selves that we see our other half and its symbols as evil. In a divided country that we currently are, we even transpose those values to our fellow participants in the American journey.
Masks are generally used for protection, disguise, performance and entertainment. To this we can now add that they are used in this country for political expression.
Recently I had a close relative return to Florida from a trip to Texas and observed that at the airports most of those that were masks were people of color and many of those that did not wear them were White. Whether intentional or not, there is a question of common sense when dealing with something like the Coronavirus.
It is clear however, that not wearing a mask is a political statement. As silly as it looks, the inference is that if you wear a mask in public you are somehow against the President and if you do not, you are with him.
The original purpose of the mask was to make the divine present in the community. The mask that depicted the deity of worship was a way of manifesting the power and companionship of the supernatural in the rituals.
When worn by humans in this environment, masks became a metaphor that connected the community with their god. It is this metaphor that binds us to the eternal that is really under attack.
President Trump does not want to wear a mask because he thinks it makes him look weak. For him, not wearing a mask is his way of convincing the public that he is strong in standing up against the pandemic and the people that warned us against its dangers.
The mask stands for protection against the elements, the preservation of human life, the belief in the value of humanity and the fact that we are the children of God. To wear it is to admit that we are vulnerable and need the protection by someone greater than ourselves.
Not to wear a mask is to deny our connection to our humanity. Not to wear a mask is to say that life is cheap and not worth living by those we hurt when we shed the virus.
The politics of wearing or not wearing a mask is the politics of caring or not caring for the life of others. The politics of wearing or not wearing a mask is the politics of dividing rather than binding.
Using a mask is one of the easiest ways to successfully combat the death of so many people. When this act is politicized the way it has been in our country, it is time to start another chapter in our history and vote to end this in November.