• Fred Guerin

Wearing a Mask as an Act of Love


Wearing a mask in a time of a viral pandemic that spreads mainly through the air when people are near each other, is not a selfish act. Neither is it a limitation of individual human freedom, nor a mechanism for social control. It is an act of love. To love others is to care for those around us, and this means at a very basic level not wanting to see anyone needlessly suffer or die.

The problem is that in the US and even in Canada those who inhabit far-right echo chambers and messaging boards like QAanon regularly deride those who wear face masks and indulge in fact-free conspiracy theories about the evils of vaccination.

They have, over a long period of time, been so emotionally, intellectually and psychologically corrupted that they literally cannot think or feel from the perspective of another. Across Facebook, 4-chan, Twitter and YouTube they spread hatred, racism, homophobia and misogyny; they organize into vigilante and paramilitary groups; they communicate through force and terror—and they are treated sympathetically by police forces and weaponized by villains like Donald Trump and low-life media outlets like Fox News.

We saw lately in Washington, what they are capable of. But we should remember that their violence is not an expression of their power, but a measure of their impotence. They are many, but they are NOT the majority. That fact was demonstrably illustrated when right-wing neo-Nazis, marauders and thugs stormed the capital building while the majority of the world looked on with horror and disgust.

I am not a pacifist in the face of injustice or evil. I do not intend to give up my right to self-defense when confronted with violence. And I don’t necessarily think that promoting love or wearing a face mask in a time of pandemic will automatically change hateful attitudes, or encourage governments to dismantle unjust laws and systems of oppression and discrimination. That is something that can only happen over time and through determined social and political action.

To bring about change and social justice we must assume that greed, injustice, racism, intolerance, misogyny, and hatred have been long cultivated and are not merely individual but also systemic.

If we are to change things for the better then we will have to stand together in solidarity against the forces of hatred, put our bodies in front of the machinery's of exploitation and greed, and appeal to the conscience of a greater community so that we may cultivate over time a more loving and beloved community.

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