Like you, I’ve spent the better part the last few weeks wearing a mask. At first I felt awkward and uncomfortable. As time went on, however, I became accustomed to wearing it. We wear these masks primarily to protect ourselves from unconsciously infecting others. It is an act of solidarity, our way of showing that we care about each other.
Traditionally, we associate masks with covering, changing or hiding our identity. They have a nefarious feel about them, not an altruistic one. We use the terms “unmasking someone or something” to mean we expose its identity or true purpose. So in a poignant, and somewhat ironic, way, we see our current season of mask-wearing as a much needed unmasking of America. This tiny bug that is causing such big problems is showing us who we really are. What we see should move us all to action.
We see that we live in a nation that undervalues its own citizens. A nation whose power and riches have been consolidated to the few, while the many have been left behind. We see a polarized, tribalistic, dysfunctional politics. Most troubling, we see, almost daily, the unmasked, naked racism that still exists in this country. So, this pandemic has caused us to wear masks but it has also unmasked us. Now unmasked it’s time to ask some serious questions:
- Do we want to live in a country where you can work full time and still not afford to live?
- Do we want to live in a country where we do not all have equal access to the law?
- Do we want to live in a country where less than half of us regularly vote?
- Do we want to live in a country where 40% of its citizens can’t come up with $500?
- Do we want to live in a country where millions live in fear daily because of the color of their skin?
What can we do? We can be more informed. We can vote, we can donate, we can stop blaming them and start fixing us. We can listen more and talk less. We can learn to engage and learn from those we disagree with. We can be honest with ourselves, and begin to make the changes necessary to build the nation we want. A nation that is committed to living up to its potential and its grand ideals. A nation that embraces the unmasking of itself. We can do our part to become a nation and a people who refuse to hide their sins and shortcomings behind the masks of indifference, fear, blame and ignorance.