I don’t believe masks work.
This is a simple claim that is as obviously true as ‘what goes up, must come down’, but it is also apparently the dumbest claim I could ever make these days. That I would assert it apparently reveals something very wrong with the way I am built.
The reason I don’t believe masks work is because of the word “work”.
Before last year, if we were flying a patient with Tuberculosis, we would don an N95 for the leg of flight with the patient on board. But before ever launching on that leg, we had been through our companies “fit testing” wherein the company and ourselves would use a tester and learn whether the mask actually sealed around my face. I don’t recall ever flying a patient with Tuberculosis, but I do recall believing that the N95, of my size, worked to keep me from contracting the disease.
It would be used for one flight. Maybe an hour long at the most.
Given that I am a pilot and not a clinician, to hang out around a Tuberculosis patient at length is just not my calling. In other words, I never considered long term mask use or if I would continue to work in an environment which required it.
Does an N95 or simple or cloth mask work to end a pandemic? Hmm. Let me think… no. How do I know? Because it hasn’t yet. And rather than pretend some hypothetical situation where everyone complies with my wishes is actually possible, I’ll just look around and state the obvious: the “pandemic” is not over. So wearing masks doesn’t work to end the pandemic. Next question.
It doesn’t end there, though. No. Somewhere along the way, by well-meaning folks with platforms, these folks attempted to hoodwink me into wearing masks by the reasoning that the mask was to save high-risk people from my unsuspecting transmission of the disease. “Put on the mask for love of fellow man.”
Then vaccines are created and the best message that Dr. Fauci’s team can develop to convince stubborn ol’ me to follow orders is, “Get the vaccine so you don’t die, Pete.”
Mask up for others, vaccinate for me. Got it.
But I still say, “No.” Or, “Not without some undue level of coercion.”
Why? And does my faith in Jesus Christ as captured by the social science label “white evangelical” have any correlation to my stance?
Let’s talk about that.
Simply put, I don’t believe masks work and I won’t voluntarily get the vaccine because I believe I have something to teach you.
You read that right. I believe I have something to teach you.
Get it? Understand?
(Picture me pointing at you). You believe you have something to teach me. You believe you know information that I don’t and you believe that I need to learn from you. Right?
(Now picture me pointing at me). Well, I believe, likewise, that I know information that you don’t and I believe that you need to learn from me.
I have noticed that your beliefs clog your ears, so I have concluded that I have to demonstrate my beliefs to your eyes.
One more time: I don’t believe masks work to end the pandemic. And I won’t voluntarily get vaccinated. The reason for my twin beliefs is that I believe that I have something to teach you.
I can freely admit that this situation, then, is similar, in method, to why I don’t become an apostate and renounce my faith in Jesus Christ at your bidding. Besides my fear of everlasting damnation being greater than my fear of enduring lackluster social shaming, besides my gratefulness for Jesus’ sacrifice for my sake, besides my awe at the daily display of God the Father’s Glory, besides the comfort of the Holy Spirit who indwells me at this moment, I also believe that I have something to teach you about life.
And in both cases, the pandemic and Christianity, my lesson is necessarily one of action. Unlike you, I have no theory, no models, no hypotheticals, only action.
As briefly as I can, then, the fact that I don’t believe masks work and I won’t voluntarily get the vaccine is my physical manifestation of the question: Will you learn from me?
Honestly, we all already know the answer in the pandemic sense is: ‘you’ll never learn.’ You will choose to live in fear until death.
In the Christian sense, it is possible that you will learn from me, or be willing to receive the gospel someday. But time is never on our side. And unfortunately, there is no escaping judgment. On that day, there will be no piece of paper or cloth big enough to hide behind. On that day there will be no data-driven model robust enough to be accepted by your maker. On that day one question alone will remain.
Jesus is going to ask you: “But who do you say that I am?”