THE MASK WARS: NO ONE IS WINNING
THE MASK WARS: NO ONE IS WINNING
A couple stands divided. He didn’t want to go to a New Year’s Eve party with his wife because too many people would be in the home. She can’t understand why his sister won’t wear a mask at all.
A woman actively being treated for cancer frequents a diner where no one wears a mask. A peer is locked in a good grip of fear because not enough people are wearing masks.
A local police officer went to a nearby grocery store. He never wore a mask while inside. For the sake of public safety, people in that same store at that same time fastidiously followed the one-way directional arrows clearly labeled at the ends of each aisle.
This is just ugly. And it’s divisive. And it’s not ending. And no one—no one—is winning anything.
The basis for this Great Divide is personal choice over respect for others. We have heard sound arguments why masks really are not so necessary. Equally, we have heard sound arguments why they should be worn. (Oops. Why the must be worn.)
I am a pastor. I’m not a commentator; I am professional caregiver. Here’s what I see. Grief. Straight up the middle, undeniable, unquestionable, white elephant in the room grief.
As a part of our nation and as part of our own neighborhoods, here’s a truth: we are grieving. Specifically, we are grieving the greatest losses most of us have ever experienced (unless, of course, you aspire to the number of recorded COVID-19 deaths as sensationalized, false or hyped.
The loss of lives, the loss of freedoms, and the loss of the life (and the lives we knew) continue to weigh us all down. Loss equals grief. And here in this mask war, maybe we should all talk more about grief.
There are five stages of grief, according to the popular Kübler-Ross model. This longstanding and properly held-to model postulates a progression of emotional states experienced by terminally ill patients after a heavy hitting diagnosis. I don’t want to press on the words ‘terminally ill’ too hard here, yikes; but chronologically the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Yep. You guessed it. Most of us are still in the first two phases. I know I am. On a good day, I can tamp down the tragedy. I can look away from death tolls and rises and falls in COVID cases. After all, I justify, I live in a media-saturated age. I can’t get away from news, therefore I become immune to it. (Yes, I caught my word choice here.)
Then, too, I see where and why people are angry. We can’t swing at the virus itself. We can’t take it out behind the barn and give it a good talkin’ to, much as many of us would like. So, instead of facing what we cannot face, we square off to what we can face. We bite politicians and/or deny (or scoff at) firmly in place mask wearing policies. “The _____ with this!” we say.
Maybe we should all be saying something else. Something far more truthful. We are scared. And we are tired. And we are war wounded.
There are others things to say, too. We can do this. We can get through this. We can grieve together. We can find strength in each other, even when (or especially when) the world hurts beyond measures we hope never ever come again.
I started a new sermon series January third which continues throughout the month. In this new series, I am taking this grief thing on fulltime full force. We just need to face this loss and all it brings out in all of us. Start with the commonality. We can unmask the universality that we can and should grieve, and that Good Grief, which is the title of the sermon series, is not an oxymoron. Good grief actually happens. Or it can happen. It’s starts not with trust but faith. We’ll pick this up next week.
Until then, consider the 5 stages of grief and where you are in what is a non-sequential order because yes, grief is slippery. Together though, let’s find solid, secure ground not more chances for war.