““Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.““
People act as if wearing a mask is inhumane torture.
People complain about its uncomfortablity in the covid age.
People yearn to return to normal, simpler times, a time when public health, sanitary existence, and social distance were less important, or at least didn't lead to possible exposure to a deadly illness that even our fat, fearless leaders diminish.
Truth is, we're all very used to wearing masks. We're very used to plastic smiles and personal distance. Disharmony is our human tune playing behind the identity we present to each other in person, in public, or on our social media platforms.
I appreciate the primary protagonist from "V for Vendetta" for many reasons, but most of all, because the mask is V's identity. Disfigured beyond recognition in a fire, he could use his twisted visage as a weapon against his foes. He could shrink away from vengeance and responsibility to his passion.
But he doesn't.
Poignant how I come back to the "Ideas are bulletproof" quote, which I featured in my first Xoterica blog. The wisdom resonates loudly in this day and age, a time when science is denied by swaths of Trump-following public and misinformation erodes the integrity of our ideas and ideals on a daily basis.
We each know that the masks we wear are not who we truly are. The paper and filter we use to veil from viruses is disposable, tangible. We don N95 or loop masks to interact with each other now, allowing us to relax the intangible identities we created for social survival. If anything, we're now forced to operate and exist and connect between many layers of disparate masking - one to protect our health, some to protect our secrets, and some to hide the truth.
The masks provide barriers between humans that can't honestly and honorably see eye to eye. They filter out dangerous vapors, and guard against engagement.
In an age when viruses rule the planet, we don't need walls to define a country's borders; we need shields that stand between each of us (ironically, I wrote this blog before the plexiglass reality at the Vice President debate), and new rules of connectivity that keep us healthy while enabling our connective tendencies. Until our public health nightmare is stabilized and under control, masks will be our regular reality. Not a fashion statement. Not a political statement.
A survival statement.
In some global cultures wearing masks in public spaces or in crowded areas has been a regular part of human life for a long time.
Donning masks as protection has been a part of China's society for as long as I can remember. With the size of their population, and some of the other global civilizations that involve close human-to-human contact, protecting oneself from the vapors and viruses that family, friends, neighbors and others pass through the populous is not just safety practice, it's a grave necessity.
Eventually, the detractors and deniers will come around. Influenza will compound with coronavirus to make fall and winter seasons seem like harvest events for humans. Not just this year, but repeated in future years. Bugs will mutate, antibiotics will become less reliable, and desperate races to find some kind of vaccination or treatment for novel attacks on our body will become more frequent.
Even the vaccines will be available depending on what kind of political mask you wear; Kamala Harris has said that she won't take a vaccine that is pushed by the President, unless it has been approved by the CDC or other health-governing bodies. Trump will take anything so long as it makes him seem strong to his base, despite what science tells him.
"Don't be afraid of covid", said the obese, unhealthy man who was admitted to one of the best hospitals in America and pumped with so many drugs that Herbert West would be impressed.
Once, epidemics and pandemics were rare, notable events, killing scores but ultimately conquerable. The frequency of novel viruses will increase, while mutations and adaptations will become more frequent in the coming generations, with some more fierce and more novel than the current coronavirus that we've encountered.
Between overpopulation, indigenous practices, melting permafrost from climate change, deforestation, and other human activities that are collapsing the natural world, it's just a matter of time. Much like our approach to asteroids or other natural events, such as the Yellowstone caldera, we live blissfully day-to-day in the shadow of catastrophe, hoping that we continue to dodge the bullets and heal the flesh wounds that Mother Nature and the Universe attack us with.
Like Mr. Creedy in "V for Vendetta", Donald Trump is overconfident to the point of arrogance, numb to the real struggles of the people that look to him for protection, purpose, or presidency.
The simple days are simply over. There's no returning to social practices that don't involve masks. Now, the masks don't just hide our ideas and identities; they help us dodge the bullets of our undoing, our human catastrophe in the form of a bug.
#maskup #vote2020 #xoterica