"I'm boycotting [x] for making me wear a mask!"
"Masks take away my freedom. Freedom is more important that anything."
"Masks are for lemmings!"
"Masks are for cowards, pussies, cucks, etc."
The anti-mask comments on some posts are so livid and visceral, I can almost feel the spittle and froth through my screen. Something deep is getting triggered. Those who defend, vehemently, their "right" to flout common sense, community safety, and biological truth, are exerting themselves through the old, shallow, hierarchical model of strength. The old strength is the one characterized by:
For those of us who understand that strength is really about fostering collaborative power and creating win-win solutions, putting on a mask is an expression of solidarity, concern, and even love.
For those stuck in that old paradigm of strength, being told what to do and acceding to that demand is knuckling under to power and losing a win-lose contest and therefore allowing themselves to slip into the oppressed class. So, of course they fight and froth at the notion. Any attempt to coerce, convince, or mandate their actions are going to be met with more hostility and spittle because they believe they are locked in an existential battle for power and survival, not a debate over public health best practices.
Those of us who are able to value the community and collective power/safety, tend to wear masks without too much fuss. I know I feel caring, and connected to my community when I wear a mask. I am putting it on to protect others. I am showing my steadiness and my ability to make a tiny sacrifice for those around me. I feel upright and strong.
And, yes, because I am acting in accordance with my value system, I feel a little righteous about my decision. Maybe I even act a little righteous or condescending about my choice. But there can be no true case made for both-sider-ism. Both choices are not equally valid. Wearing a mask protects others, will help prevent death, and actually speed the re-opening of businesses and institutions.
In times of collective danger, collective action is necessary. Unfortunately, those operating under the old paradigm of strength are ever fearful of being told what to do lest they become one of the oppressed. Their attempts to protect themselves from this fate endanger us all.
I don't know, really, how to help the anti-maskers stand-down from their self-protective position. They crave power and freedom when self-sacrifice and community solidarity are called for. I don't know how to reach across the paradigm divide. Maybe some of you reading this post have ideas. I'd love to hear them.
You can hear more about my own personal journey from Old Strength to New Strength in my TEDx talk.
Charles Matheus grew up in an old mining town in Arizona. He managed to graduate from an Ivy League University and knows that you won't hold that against him.