Mask politics

Share my opinion? I think wearing a mask in public spaces is a good idea under our current circumstances.

Why should expressing my opinion on this question feel political? In the sense of political = partisan/pushy. It shouldn’t, but it does. And why should we think “partisan/pushy” when we hear the word “political”? We are sick with something worse than a coronavirus. “Politics” should mean: civil, constructive conversation about what course of concerted action is best for all of us now. It doesn’t mean that here now.

Why not? Who or what has done this to us?

If you (I) hear what I (you) say as partisan/pushy, you (I) may want to push back, or you (I) may want to tune out. If you (I) hear what I (you) say as an invitation to civil, constructive conversation about what course of concerted action is best for all of us right now—what then?

I don’t immediately know what I think about a $500 fine for refusing to wear a mask in public spaces. To me it’s like spray-painting obscenities on buildings, or breaking shop windows, or peeing on the busy sidewalk. I have to get past just feeling sad or indignant that someone would do that before I can get to thinking whether a fine will help.

These behaviors don’t rise to the level of “political.” Not in the constructive sense. Not even in the partisan/pushy sense. They are anti-political. They belong to the same genus as sabotage and vandalism. The reveal a rejection of the very ideas of constructive conversation, common good, life together. In them self-centeredness presents itself as anarchism. Anti-politics.

The question was not about not liking masks. It was not about not thinking they should be required. It was not about arguing or voting against requiring them. It was about refusing to wear them when the powers that be have decided that they are required.

You want a definition of politics that isn’t partisan/pushy? “Seek the well-being of the city to which I have exiled you” (Jeremiah 29:7). That’s at least a start.

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