Those of us who are unsettled by mask mandates often cite the loss of freedoms as the reason behind our concerns, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. Mask mandates are not just dehumanizing in the context of today’s society, preventing us from reading the faces of others. There is yet another level of dehumanization. Getting “used to” masks suggests something more spiritually sinister: a Borg-like facelessness that isolates and atomizes every one of us.
There are, of course, several obvious reasons to object to mask mandates. First, those who push for them have made it very easy to be skeptical of their claims that any old mask is essential for public safety. A mask alone in the car? On the beach in the sun and salt air? On the walk into a restaurant but not after you’re seated?
Many blue-state governors and mayors such as Nashville’s John Cooper, whom businesses have accused of covering up declining COVID-19 case numbers to keep the lockdowns going, can’t hide the fact that they are social engineers at heart. For them, the Wuhan virus is an irresistible mechanism for social control.
We also get glimpses of our self-appointed betters, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who doff the mask whenever it suits them but insist that the little people be punished for not wearing them. We also know many of the demoralizing effects of these lockdowns and mask mandates are proving to be deadly. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that lockdowns could kill as many people as the virus itself.
Suffice it to say that some people are too much in a state of fear and ignorance to see mask mandates as anything but safety measures, but most of us know when we’re being played — and we are indeed being played. We can see it in the experts’ vacillation since day one of the pandemic.
We began with “15 days to flatten the curve” to no end in sight for lockdowns and masks eight months later. We began with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s claim that “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” but now experts insist that they are “required” to stop the spread. We began with the logical assumption that a vaccine would bring us back to normal, but then we heard from Fauci that a vaccine won’t change anything “for at least a year.”
The average sane observer has a right to see all of this as kabuki theater. In the meantime, the mask scolds have been monomaniacal about this one particular virus as though there is absolutely no other way to die. What they don’t seem to understand is that this is no way to live.
Controlling Society Through Isolation
Masks are a form of social isolation, and humans cannot survive emotionally or even physically when they are forcibly separated from one another. You may ask, how are mask mandates isolating in the context of safety? After all, you can still go out in a mask. You can still speak through them. All that’s asked is that you wear masks to avoid spreading potential viral droplets from your breath to those around you. How is this isolating?
Even when medically necessary, mask mandates are isolating because facelessness is isolating. You don’t know — you can’t know — the person wearing the mask. The entire mood of masking is anti-relational and anti-friendship. Wearing a mask prohibits the communication of a smile and the clarity of expression. It gets us in the habit of wearing a flat affect underneath the mask.
Take courtrooms, for example. It has become clear to many involved in court cases that trial witnesses must not wear masks because the jury can’t assess the truth when the witnesses’ faces are covered. The solution for some is transparent face shields.
Sadly, no matter how optimistic the numbers look for the end of the Wuhan virus, no matter the miracle of a vaccine produced in record time, many elites find the social engineering possibilities of mask mandates too delicious to resist. Those who push them — including Joe Biden, who was for a national mask mandate before he was against it — seem very uninterested in having them end.
‘Till We Have Faces’
A broader and deeper look at the corrosive effects of masking and isolation is found in “Till We Have Faces,” which is arguably the greatest novel from C.S. Lewis. While it is heavy on allegory and can be difficult to absorb, its lessons relate to mask mandates.
Without going into the storyline, a retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, one can still glean crucial principles. The title itself is compelling enough. With each reading, I discover new revelations about human folly, vanity, hatred, sacrifice, and more.
The main character, Orual, covers her face for most of her life. She does so to gain a sense of power over others, which is especially useful after she becomes queen of her realm. She also believes her veil hides her ugliness and shame. In the end, however, Orual finds that her veil served only as a barrier to joy, love, and good relationships with others. It symbolizes self-absorption and represents grudges, anger, resentment, and especially a fear of the truth.
At her moment of epiphany, Orual realizes she spent her life hiding from the truth, often in the most specious of ways. Once she accepts the truth, Orual understands that her life, spent in pursuit of the total control symbolized by her face-covering, didn’t serve her well.
The story has many layers, but the main point is that personas and mask-wearing set us back from knowing truth, seeing beauty, loving others, and being joyful. Those things all require a willingness to go bareface, to reveal who we are in order to speak honestly and invite others to do the same. In the end, that’s the only way to endure life’s suffering and disappointments.
When she finally recognizes the word of truth, Orual says of the gods: “’Til that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” Indeed, how can we meet anybody face to face ’til we have faces?
Will We Have Faces?
Given the political climate today, I think it’s fair to assume that mask mandates are even worse than overt tools of social control. They impose on us exactly what the character Orual imposed on herself in her belief that it afforded her protection (and even power) over life’s afflictions.
To be clear, I am not criticizing anyone who wears a mask. Wear them in a crowd. Wear them if you’re convinced of the health benefits, and wear them, of course, if you are at risk.
If we wish to remain free, however, we should reject mask-wearing as any kind of normal. We should never get used to seeing a landscape of masked faces at the grocery store, at businesses, and especially out in the open air. Small children in particular should never have to adopt this as normal — because it is confusing and abnormal. It isolates us and erases our unique identities.
Acquiescence to politicized mask mandates also removes our sense of common humanity. We end up living in a faceless, dehumanized sea of anonymous people, and that is no way to live.