“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”
I think it’s fair to say we live in exceedingly divided times. As a case in point, I submit for your consideration the strong feelings surrounding the wearing or not wearing of masks in public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These divergent feelings are well represented within our church family.
I get that some don’t like the government sticking its nose in where they think it shouldn’t. I understand that some are concerned about perpetual governmental overreach on any number of issues affecting everyday life. I’ll even admit to having a bit of a libertarian streak on some issues. But what I’m presently perplexed by is how wearing a mask in public has become such a partisan issue. The COVID-19 virus doesn’t vote. It doesn’t care about your politics. It’s an opportunistic virus whose spread can be greatly curtailed by the proper wearing of masks in public spaces, especially indoors.
For years, most of us have accepted the wisdom of wearing seat belts when we drive or ride in cars. Anyone who flies has accepted the necessity of very inconvenient, not to mention intrusive, screening procedures before we board flights. Most of us, even the libertarians among us, do not view these as partisan issues or government overreach. We simply accept them as best practices for our safety and move on with our lives.
There was some early confusion with public health recommendations for the wearing of masks. But at this point, the evidence strongly indicates that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the corollary that the more people wear masks, the better. With that in mind, it seems like such a small thing to ask: Can we all wear our masks when we’re out in public, particularly indoors? Can we please not allow this simple practice to be yet another partisan dividing line? Can we please let science and not politics guide us on this one?
One final thought: the mask that I wear dramatically decreases the droplets I expel when I speak or exhale, which protects you from catching COVID from me. And vice versa. Which sounds like a remarkably relevant application of Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”