The mask is the wrong symbol for this pandemic

Guest Columnist

Now that the mask is not only socially acceptable but also sometimes mandatory in this  current pandemic,  I was curious to look back at its history. In my last article I examined the history of the pandemics in the last 100 years and found that this pandemic is no different than all of the rest. They all kill thousands of people, normally come in two waves and burn themselves out in one to two years.

So what is different about Corona? Well, it is not different. The leaders of our society are different. They think that they have the technology to control a pandemic. The problem is that they must drastically alter human society in their attempt to achieve control. They must close the society and direct that all people wear masks.


The History of Human Masking

Masks were invented 9,000 years ago and were used to disguise a priest or medicine man to represent a god. From that day forward, there were many other uses for a mask but the mask always altered or hid the face of the wearer. The purpose of the disguise could be to amuse or to terrify other people. Masks continue to be used in religious ceremonies, in theater performances, and for criminal activity such as vigilante groups, the KKK, and bank robbers. Masks are also used to punish people or to hide the face of a person being executed. It is only recently that masks are used for protection like the gas masks used in World War I. Hitler’s famous mustache was invented so that his gas mask would fit. Pilots wear oxygen masks, welders wear protective masks and football players wear face protection. The surgical mask is a recent invention but the surgeon is not wearing it to protect himself, but to protect his patient who is about top be cut open.

Given the history of the mask, this is not the symbol that we want to get thru a pandemic.  In a pandemic, the virus kills but the fear that the virus generates tears apart our social fabric.  Humans are social animals.  They survive on this hostile planet by forming groups and cooperating.  The mask has been a symbol of non-cooperation. Bank robbers and the KKK used the mask to terrify others.  So why would we want to hide our identity and terrify people during a time when cooperation is so necessary?  The surgical mask does not protect the wearer, so to use it to fight a virus, we all must be masked.  We all must hide our identity from our neighbor and project the symbols of fear.

The virus will come and go as do all pandemics.  The damage done by our projection of fear will do permanent damage to our social connections.  We cannot view our neighbor as a death threat and live peacefully in our society.  If you are sick, wear a mask to protect others. But if not, don’t promote constant fear and distrust by hiding your face.  It dehumanizes our neighbors and continues to generate fear.

It is time to unmask to repair the damage that has been done so that life can return to normal.

Lawrence E. Mercker is a retired US Air Force Colonel and pilot. He resides in downtown Sarasota with his wife Kathleen who is also a retired Air Force Colonel.  They play tennis and enjoy the view of the Sarasota Bay.

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3 Responses for “The mask is the wrong symbol for this pandemic”

  1. Karen says:

    Idiocy. And you voted for another idiot named Trump, I bet.

  2. Susan Marcus says:

    I suggest we think about wearing a mask like we think about wearing a seat belt; stopping at a red light; or letting an elderly or infirm person go ahead of us in line. It’s not an intrusion on our personal freedom (really); nor dehumanizing (are sunglasses dehumanizing? Are hats dehumanizing?) – rather, it’s a way for members of a society to collaborate to stay safe, support each other, and spread a little community consciousness. Be of sound mind and light heart – take seriously your impact on others, take lightly your mental projections. Be well, stay safe!

  3. Pam says:

    When people like you use negative words like “project the symbols of fear” actually cause distrust and fear. You say, “if you are sick, wear a mask”. Well that is the problem. We don’t know if we are sick so wearing a mask helps prevent spreading the virus unknowingly. As is social distancing.

    A mask does not have to be looked at as “dehumanizing and defined as fear” if you, the press and everyone else changes the mindset. Masks are worn to protect others and there is a certain percentage it protects ourselves. Let’s report on those positives. Masks are good, shows we care about our fellow citizens and their health. Masks are good and a symbol of love because we love our life, our world, our neighbors. Masks are necessary to repair the virus damage so that life can return to normal. Can we be more positive and report that masks are important to assist in controlling this virus until we have medicine to treat and a vaccine!

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