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Wearing Masks

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
September 8, 2020

I am old enough to remember when nobody wore seatbelts. In 1964, when I was eleven years old, seatbelts became standard equipment in new cars in the USA. In the 1980s, most states began requiring their use. Many people resisted this practice, arguing, for example, that they caused more accidents than they prevented. Many people disregarded the rules. Over time, though, people became used to them, stopped arguing about them, and the benefits have been significant. I don’t feel good if I am in a car without wearing a seatbelt.

There was a similar reaction when it became mandatory to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in Pennsylvania in 1995. At first, it seemed foolish to many people, but everyone does it now.

Because of the pandemic there is now a similar process going on related to wearing masks, and other precautions associated with the disease. The resistance to these practices is predictable and understandable, although it is interesting that most countries have not politicized the issue to the extent that we have in this country.

Efforts to change practices, to make people stop one kind of behavior or start a new kind of behavior, go on constantly. Whether they are about smoking, drinking, hand-washing, safe driving, littering, eating healthy food, recycling, or rejecting racism, sexism and other stereotypes, the efforts are ongoing and continual.

One of the most important parts of this process is the attempt to convince people of the truth. It can be challenging to overcome skepticism, especially if the new practice is inconvenient, or if the current practice is firmly entrenched. The Writings describe the importance of this part of the process, and how strongly principles work in your life once you have adopted them:

How strongly principles operate, may be evident merely from this: if any one believes that the food in which they have delighted is injurious, they then, by virtue of that principle, abstain from that food, and, at length, turn away from it in dislike – if they only adopt that persuasion, or be in it from some physician whom they suppose knows. It is thus in many other cases: so that principles subdue affections. Hence it may be evident, of how great importance it is to be acquainted with the knowledges of truth, and to believe that what is here stated is true.” Spiritual Experiences (minor) 4613


The message here is that it is important to know what the truth is. The campaign to convince Americans of the benefits of wearing masks has been going full tilt for months. It happens in all kind of ways, including scientific charts showing what happens when you wear one and what different kinds of masks do. Whether we are convinced or not we are all aware of the challenges associated with this effort.


The passage above ends by saying how important it is “to believe that what is here stated is true.” This gets at the root of the issue with respect to this part of the process. Who do you believe? When it comes to wearing masks, and other pandemic precautions, we are urged to trust the science. In spiritual matters, we are to trust the Word. These are the foundations of truth, and they are a key starting point for any beneficial change.


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