Mask or no mask? That seems to be the question of the month polarizing some Americans. There are three camps on the “mask or no mask” question. Let’s break them down.
“I am not wearing a mask,” he says. Someone asks, “why not?” The answer is almost always the same; selfishness described as freedom to choose. “It is my right to choose! The government can’t tell me what to do regarding my health. It is my personal freedom. This is a government power grab.”
Every answer in the “no mask” camp is rooted in selfishness. Me. Me. Me. My right. My choice. My health. My comfort. My convenience. Want to know the primary source of our societal tailspin? We are a society of eight-year-olds incapable of considering another human. If I don’t like it, I am not going to do it. We demand our rights but outsource our responsibility. Zero empathy because “you can’t make me.”
“I am wearing a mask, and you should too!” This camp is all about wearing the mask to validate their goodness. These are the self-rightness mask wearers. Convinced in their rightness, they are looking for any person not wearing a mask to fuel their outrage. The reality is they are more interested in being right than doing the right thing. Self-righteous do-gooders are just as selfish as the “no mask” people. They disguise their selfishness as protection for others but actually wear the mask to feel good about themselves. As a reminder, self-righteousness is justified anger. At the moment, we are a nation of self-righteous eight-year-olds disguised as adults.
These two camps are always at odds. They draw the lines and defend their selfishness, flooding social media comments with their banter. It is all energy wasted. Imagine if the energy used to oppose others was applied to making a difference and a positive impact. We live in a distracted world obsessed with what others are doing and fed by social media. The mindset of America is fear of missing out, or I deserve what they have, or you can’t make me. America uses its energy to justify its feelings. Anger sell and self-righteousness sell, and the big three (media, government, corporations) are eager to promote them.
The Right Thing
The last camp asks themselves the simple question of, “what is the right thing to do?” After they answer the question, they do it. After they do it, they don’t shout from the rooftops about what they have done. They don’t run to every social media outlet seeking approval for making the right choice. What is the right thing to do? The right thing to do is always in the service of others. “Oh, Russ, you are such a bleeding heart. Get real!” some might retort. I get it. Success is rooted in service, not selfishness or self-righteousness. We live in a service-driven economy. Here is the problem: we all want to be served. The right thing to do in the service of others has a component of selfishness. Serving others feels good, and there is nothing wrong with feeling good. Serving others is rewarding. The reward can be financial, emotional, or both.
So, to wear a mask or not wear a mask? What is the right thing to do? If I can wear a mask, it might be an inconvenience, but only a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. If I don’t wear a mask and unknowingly have COVID-19, I could infect others. How effective is the mask? Wrong question. Is the mask effective at all? It is, or doctors and nurses would not wear them in every surgery. So, I can potentially prevent infecting another person by wearing a mask. That would seem like the right thing to do, but I don’t like wearing a mask. There is a bonus to wearing a mask; I can decrease the chances of being infected. Ok, so wearing a mask is an inconvenience that I don’t like, but it can help prevent me from unknowingly infecting others and can reduce the chances of me becoming infected. The right thing to do would appear to be to wear a mask. No need for government intervention when we use logic to deduce the right thing to do. The issue is that we are so caught up politicizing the right thing to do that our culture is incapable of doing the right thing. Every decision is about you versus what is right.
The “Do the Right Thing” camp is not going to run social media to declare their decision. They will not look glaringly at every person without a mask. They choose to do the right thing in service of others because the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.