It is an odd sensation that courses through my body as I glance out the window where I work. Passersby wear masks. Masks made of cloth. Medical masks. Masks contrived from bandanas. The feeling is surreal. I am walking through a dream in a near dystopian novel or movie, not real life. Not the reality it has become. Masks are utilitarian. Masks are compassionate. They can be used as a new form of fashion statement to loosen the blow of their true function. Protection. Protection from a deadly virus which swims beneath the surface, invisible, its shark’s fin appearing in the most unlikely bodies. No one is immune. No one is safe. The virus is a bolt of lightning randomly striking.
These thoughts run through my head as I turn my attention to the flowers in the cooler. I am a floral designer. Business is slow. It takes time to reopen. We are at the mercy of those waiting to return to work. We are in an office building. I choose pink peonies as I breathe into my own mask. I am unable to smell them. Today I wear the gnomes. My mom has been busy. Using her creativity to make the best of an impossible situation. Our shop is inside the lobby of a high rise building in downtown Boston. The Au Bon Pain is closed. The Patriot News convenient store is closed. I wave at a security officer as I make my way to the work bench. No one is allowed in the building without a mask. It is inconvenient, yet minor. I cannot help but ponder on those who say stores have no right to require masks in order to enter.
It is the unthinking selfishness of those who refuse to wear a mask which endanger us the most. Crying out their rights are violated. Pence claiming in a press conference that it is a constitutional right to hold a rally in one of the worst hit cities, making masks optional. The campaign going so far as removing the “do not sit here” stickers in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is as if they want people to get sick. I truly do not understand the mindset. How can I help change it if I cannot put myself in their frame of mind?
Their brains are unfathomably wired. A hope that they may be shamed into wearing a mask seems futile. Will it take something more extreme? The loss of a loved one because care was not taken. Wearing a mask can be uncomfortable. Out of the norm. People’s sensibilities stirred in a new way. It is like brushing my teeth with the left hand instead of the right. It is awkward but can be done. I feel those things. I miss the fresh air as I walk down the street, but if someone is nearby, I must think beyond my desires.
As those who argue their rights are violated, they are infringing on the right to life of those who are vulnerable. Even those who are seemingly not. It is unknown who carries the virus when they are asymptomatic just as it is unknown if we will get into a car accident. For safety we wear a seatbelt. For safety it is law. Sadly, I have known those to refuse to do even that. Their rights and all. It is not about rights. It is about courtesy, sympathy, empathy. There is no infringement on constitutional rights. It is as simple as not touching a hot pot on a stove or carrying scissors correctly as you walk. It is for your safety and mine. We are all in this together. I know this saying has become a cliché, but it is truth. It takes all of us to do what is necessary. Wearing a mask is not too much to ask.
This brings me to the idea of the stay at home orders and the closing of the economy. Sick people cannot work. Dead people cannot shop. It is that simple. We are a privileged society in the worst way. Discommendation is being forced to live in an attic for two years not allowed to speak or use the restroom during the day. No sunlight. Only those around you for company. Dependent on the goodwill of those risking their own lives so you do not starve. This is nothing compared to what Anne Frank and so many during World War II had to endure.
My mind is free to roam when there is no one to talk to. The phone hardly rings. One or two orders come through. I am angered at those who can only think of themselves. They are the same ones who wish to deny affordable healthcare to others. To themselves. All in the name of not paying for someone else’s insurance. They are the ones who protest with their guns, in state houses, not removed or punished because they have the “right to work.” I find this ironic to the reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality which is legitimate. The right to life. The right to equality.
The right to work in a pandemic where one person could inadvertently kill many is not something to protest about.
The irony is they are the pro-lifers.
A right to be born.
No right to survive after birth.
Death to everyone but unborn babies.
Does this seem a bit of a skewed viewpoint?
Honestly, I feel it goes deeper than that. The core is control. Most of the right to work, pro-life protesters are white evangelicals. Screaming “God is love.” Is he love when they are his apostles? Impression is everything. They have not gotten over the loss of the Civil War. The gaining of rights by blacks during civil rights.The right to vote for women during Women’s suffrage. The right to live equally. The right to love who we want. These “protesters” know they are the minority, yet they hold the decision-making posts. Due to an outdated electoral college system created to pacify the former slave holding states of the south. They are frightened of losing power. Of becoming the marginalized. Equality is death to superiority. They are frozen with the fear that everyone’s rights will become equal to theirs. They relish in looming over others, disregarding anyone they have decided are less than.
The country, the world has stood up. This must change. They are scared shitless.
Good. I say.
It is time.
Time that their racist, bigot voices are crushed.
What does this have to do with the Mask Divide?
The Mask Divide is symbolism. It is the line drawn in the sand. It is the border that is fighting the blurred reality of dominance. It is harder to disguise the truth of what is inside because the truth of what lies in their heart is now exposed. The mask has become the Band-aid that no longer sticks. Most who refuse to wear a mask are those useless, empty protestors. Deplorables. They are narcissists in the name of Jesus. They cannot hide the innards of their souls any longer.
Nor do they care to. Trump has thrown that door wide open. It is they who have drawn the line. It is they who have encouraged police brutality. Hidden it. Voted to tip the scales of justice in their minoritized favor. They are not America, but they are who represents America with a buffoon at its head.
I admit I am ashamed to call myself an American. I cringe at the sight of our flag or the idea of the pledge of allegiance. It represents division in my eyes, not unity. It represents oppression. Those voted to represent us are tied by bureaucracy. It amazes me how one man in the Senate can stall every bill that will help the people. Those who are a country.
Mitch McConnell does not deserve to be compared to a turtle. He is a hateful, vile man. He is the one who drew the line with Trump, Pence and the rest of the republicans all blinded by the character of wealth the lobbyers use to string them along.
All refusing to don a mask.
The symbol of their perceived superiority. All in the name of protecting unborn babies. Or so they claim.
All in the name to control the masses so they can stroke their lofty egos and get rich off the people’s backs. This is no democracy. It is an oligarchy. A desire for a dictatorship with a puppet at the head. The one who pulls the strings across the seas.
I pack up the arrangement I have just made. It is pretty. Someone’s day will be made brighter. I set it on the cart catching a glimpse of myself in the window. I wear a divider on my face. A piece of cloth should only be a protector but has become so much more. I am on the side of the people. I am the people.
We are The Masked Divided.