What Do YOU Need?

You wore a mask! 

Good for you!

And you did it for the most altruistic of reasons! You did it, first and foremost, for the benefit of people around you. I mean, sure, you were also doing it to protect yourself. But as the scientists told us repeatedly, the wearing of face masks was primarily a measure designed to keep ME from spreading the disease to YOU.

Thank you very much and KUDOS!

Today though, as the number of new cases of COVID-19 gets smaller and smaller every day, mask requirements are being relaxed. People are returning to Disneyland, to ball parks, to concerts, and to grocery stores, brazenly showing the bottom half of their faces.

As we revel in our newfound freedom, though, I worry. 

Yes, I worry about a “fourth wave” (or is it the fifth?) of COVID that might return to take more lives. But I also worry that the relaxation of mask requirements will also cause a relaxation of our practice of acting “for the benefit of others.”

Let’s start out by admitting right out of the gate that Americans have never really been good at the whole, “… for the benefit of others” thing. We are the land of the rugged individual where the word FREEDOM means MYfreedom to do as I darned well please… and to heck with how my actions might affect YOU.

  • We are, after all, the people who hacked and shot and blasted our way across the prairies of North America, snatching the land away from people who were here thousands of years before us. 
  • We are the self-appointed “protectors of the planet” (unless, of course, we are talking about protecting the planet from global climate change) who will stop at nothing to make the world safe for democracy.
  • We are the people who invent and innovate and devise our own solutions to problems, regardless of the work other people have done.

But the pandemic seemingly changed all that. The overwhelming majority of us came to understand that simply “looking out for number 1” is an ethos that can carry deadly consequences.

At first, looking around and seeing people wearing masks – “for the benefit of others” – was incredibly exciting for me. It almost made me believe I was watching the emergence a whole new national ethos. 

Now I’m not so sure. 

Now it seems as if we are quickly falling back into our old habits and patterns. It is almost as if we’ve decided that the idea of measuring our actions by the yardstick of how they affect, or benefit others is something that only applies when there is a global supervirus lurking about.

To which I say, just as the heartbroken young boy said to Shoeless Joe Jackson as he left the courthouse following his trial for perpetrating the Chicago Black Sox scandal in 1919, “SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE!”

As the popular internet meme so wisely says, “Bees don’t make honey for themselves. Trees don’t eat the fruit they produce. They each demonstrate the truth that says life is best when it is lived FOR OTHERS.” 

Or as this guy named Jesus of Nazareth also said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, NRSV). The people listening to him in that moment knew exactly what he meant by the phrase, “… as I have loved you.” They knew that it meant they were called to love one another TOTALLY… UNCONDITIONALLY… and SACRIFICIALLY.

They knew he meant that – if it came to it – they were called to give up their lives for someone else… just as Jesus had.

Like many others I am really, really tired of masking. I am likewise tired of staying six feet away from people who aren’t part of my “tribe.”

But – with the help of God – I am going to try and shape my actions by what YOU need instead of what I want.

Abundant blessings;

7 Responses to “What Do YOU Need?”

  1. May 25, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    We are the self-appointed “protectors of the planet” (unless, of course, we are talking about protecting the planet from global climate change) who will stop at nothing to make the world safe for democracy.

    I think you might appreciate this film (assuming you haven’t already seen it):

  2. May 26, 2021 at 12:18 am

    Please don’t pass judgment on people based on one thing – mask wearing. It’s way more complex than that.
    Many feel depriving children of human faces, smiles, hugs, and interaction with their friends for over a year of their short childhoods (not to mention much needed oxygen to their developing brains) has done unnecessary damage to their mental and spiritual well-being, especially since Covid’s risk to children is statistically zero. Others look at the damage to people who have lost their livelihoods, their mental health, and relationships, which in many cases is irreparable.
    I understand that people are scared, and I don’t fault them for that, but neither am I going to fault others for saying the restrictions imposed by politicians (many of whom don’t follow their own guidelines) is excessive, especially for a virus with a 99% survival rate.
    This is a great opportunity for those of us who love Jesus to demonstrate His grace! When everyone else is condemning those they disagree with, this is a way we can really stand out. (If you don’t accuse the non-mask wearers of selfishness maybe they won’t accuse you of child abuse. 😏) Fearless, unconditional love speaks volumes. Let’s do it!

  3. June 12, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    My family and I are still masked up. We want this thing to go away for good. Masking, practicing social distancing, and staying away from large gatherings has been our contribution to that. We’re all tired and frustrated, yes, but if we could all just hold on a little longer and think about the big picture, not this tiny moment, we can get out of this thing and go back to the better parts of normal.

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