One of the most insidious aspects of the New Normal is the wearing of masks as a feature of everyday life. It is a sign that fear governs many people’s actions – whether that fear be of a mild virus, social ostracism, or harsh government penalties, and that this fear can drive people to irrational acts.
Much has been written elsewhere about the inefficacy of masks in preventing viral transmission, as well as the ever-changing health advice on wearing them. To quote Dr Fauci (in 2020, before the Science changed), “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences— people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
I would object to wearing a mask even if they did work, seeing as all Covid variants are clearly not very dangerous to most people, and basic logic dictates that if masks are effective then anyone who wishes to wear one should be safe. At this point, wearing a mask is a gesture of compliance with a medical establishment that is at best incompetent and at worst dreadfully compromised.
The fact that people still wear them in grocery stores or when walking alone outside is proof that with enough fear, gullibility and, perhaps, self-righteousness, people will comply with the most arbitrary and nonsensical government edicts. One wonders what else people who wear masks alone in their cars would do if they were told to by the state or the nightly news. There are, of course, certain situations in which it is impossible to get away with not wearing one, such as in airports and planes, but I never cease to be amazed by people who go above and beyond the requirements.
Given that over 93% of Australians are double-vaccinated and Omicron is evidently milder than previous variants (which were already mild), there’s no good reason to wear a mask. While some people are still afraid of Covid, and others wear them as a public symbol of their allegiance to totalitarian principles, the main reason people continue to wear them is they fear the penalties for not doing so, such as being denied entry or service somewhere, getting fined, or having an altercation with someone who is either trying to keep their job or is simply obnoxious. For the most part, people are acting out of fear of punishment, not fear of Covid.
Part of the problem in Australia is that personal responsibility is becoming anathema to us. If masks do work, individuals should be able to weigh the risks and benefits for themselves and make their own decision about whether to wear one. The same applies to getting vaccinated and leaving the house – there is no need for a government mandate of any kind. Even after everything that Australians have been through over the past two years, many do not seem to grasp the fact that governments with too much power are far deadlier than Covid.
A lamentable aspect of mask mandates is they provide an excuse for aspiring totalitarians to impose their will on others. These are the people for whom the mask provides a sense of moral validation and self-importance. The mandates reward irrational and petty behaviour while punishing critical thinking and minding one’s own business. Such calling evil good and good evil is a hallmark of totalitarianism, in which dissenting from the all-encompassing lie is met with penalties.
Sadly, people have now become accustomed to wearing masks, and I suspect a portion of the population are so psychologically damaged by fear and propaganda that they will continue wearing them for the rest of their lives. Masks serve as a constant visual reminder that there is an “emergency,” and your neighbour is a potential threat. To those of us who understand that no such emergency does, or ever did, exist, masks are a symbol of compliance with arbitrary, authoritarian impositions on liberty.
Furthermore, we have no idea what the effects of wearing masks will be on children. The National Pulse reported that there is already some evidence suggesting that children’s speech development is being stilted as a result of mask mandates (the Reuters “fact check” of this claim is very amusing). Forcing children to wear masks is, in my view, a form of abuse, and should never have been practiced or tolerated given how important social interaction and interpreting facial expressions are to a child’s developing brain (not to mention that Covid poses virtually no risk to children whatsoever).
All this should cause us to realise that mask mandates are not about public health but something else. I think that those of us who understand this should resist wearing masks as much as we can so that others will find their courage and refuse to comply. It is a difficult thing to do. Few of us want to quarrel with others, especially in public, but the absurdity of being forced to wear them is so palpable that I personally refuse to participate in it as much as I can. I’m not saying it’s immoral to wear a mask, but that it is an action motivated by irrational fear. In other words, I think those who are against mask mandates, and want others to be, should be “conscientious objectors” to them – especially as the tide turns in our favour.
The great Soviet dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn urged the Western world to learn from the Soviet experience and “live not by lies.” He meant that an individual’s thoughts and actions should never be governed by anything one doesn’t believe is true. When the individual refuses to live by lies, a link in the chain of tyranny is broken.
Wearing a mask when you know it is absurd is being complicit in a lie – a lie that is multi-layered. The lie is that Covid is so dangerous that we must wear masks, that masks are effective in preventing transmission, and the government has the legitimate authority to force you to do this (it is the government pressuring businesses to enforce mask-wearing). This is nested in the greater lie that governments can justify nullifying our rights and our consciences if it is “for your safety.”
None of these things are true. Perhaps we should heed Solzhenitsyn’s warning and stop complying. If we do this, the lie will become more exposed and therefore untenable, and eventually, it will collapse.