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Question: what does it mean to wear or not wear a mask?

President-Elect Biden has said he will ask everyone to wear a mask for his first 100 days in office. You would think he said people would have to sacrifice their first born at high noon. What does wearing or not wearing a mask say about an person?

If you don’t wear a mask does that mean you don’t care about others; if you do wear a mask, you do?

I’ve been fascinated, angry, scared, outrage and just good ole fashion pissed by the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in America. Currently, we have 14 million cases and 274k+ deaths. When I look at these numbers, my mind practically breaks when I see a person, mask-less because the alleged virus is a ”hoax.”

America, as an identity, is rugged Individualism. Think John Wanye or the Marbro Man. The phrase, ”I’m not a sheep” or ”I live in a free country” or even ”You can’t tell me what to do” sounds like a petulant child rebelling against his mom by refusing to eat the spinach on his plate. I don’t understand how wearing a mask makes one a sheep, a follower, not manly.

I keep thinking about the 56% of White Women and the 18% of Black Men who voted for the outgoing President. I wonder if, for these two groups who identify with his brand of Individualism: the ” I’m free so I can say and do whatever I want because I am strong and can handle anything,” refuse to wear masks to show their loyalty? Does it make you strong to not wear a mask? Are you testing God? Do you not care about your own life?

I think the reason people who don’t wear masks is the same reason people who do wear masks do. It’s the same reason why we vote for who we individually vote for. The reason: our wearing or not wearing of a mask during the worse pandemic in history–cases and deaths be damned–is because our choice reflects back to us who we want to be.

I don’t want to see myself as weak, so I won’t wear a mask. I want to see myself as a person who cares about others and life itself, so I wear a mask. My point is this: mask-wearing or not is self-referential. It’s a looking back on one’s self to know one’s self. It’s a completely internal marker to reiterate to the self that one is self-defined.

To wear or not to wear a mask?

The cases and death numbers have NO bearing on the choice. If it did, we wouldn’t have the numbers we have–and climbing. The more you try to get a person to wear one or to not, the person’s sense of self to him or her self is threatened. So to reiterate personal power, people dig their heels in.

And more people die.

I noticed that Biden said he would ”ask” the American people to wear a mask for his first 100 days in office. It is a brilliant strategy. By ”asking” instead of demanding he just lowered the threat. You can’t defy an ask. You have to consider it. Once you can consider it, the threat has passed and NOW we can speak to the benefits if one chooses to wear one–or not.

It seems a simple thing: to ask.

Yet it may be the single most powerful strategy a president, a parent, even a Police Officer can implement in order to influence an action or outcome. We do it all the time in sales and marketing. You can’t make anyone buy anything. You really can’t unless you want to process a bunch of refunds.

But you can influence the purchase.

When you ask instead of demand, people feel respected.

They feel in control.

They feel like their voice matters.

So I’m taking on asking. Who knows. Perhaps by asking the people, I love to wear a mask–or not, we can then have a conversation about it instead of going to war.

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