Let’s begin at the beginning.
When you and your baby are finally looking at each other and it is no longer a one-way street, what is the one thing you try to do? Make the baby smile. Can there be anything more heavenly than getting a baby to smile back at you? We will go to any lengths, raising our voices higher, making fools of ourselves, whatever it takes. But getting that first smile is the greatest gift.
This goes on as the baby progresses. You teach him to find things funny. Little jokes between you and him. And again, nothing is foolish enough to try if it gets you that facial reaction.
When grandma comes, eventually, the baby recognizes her and knows, this one is fun. Smiles all around. Mutual joy.
If a baby is hurt or frightened or angry, the mouth puckers to get that face ready to show feelings. Hunger is the first thing to show that crying face. And when the baby can recognize Mommy’s face, he begins to see the reaction he is producing and manipulation time is here. Is she going to show me indifference or is she going to assuage me? That important back and forth is part of conditioning a child on what to expect in life.
Faces matter. As the child gets more of the world, as the child matures, the expressions on the face of a stranger, a doctor, a nursery care worker, or a teacher continue the important lessons of expectations. And so it goes.
So when we put masks on, the child loses most of what he needs to learn about how to socialize and read the world. How can he possibly grow up normal or unscathed? And if we put masks on a child, that is even worse. It is difficult to discern his reactions and it is difficult for him to breathe normally and feel free. I can’t believe this is not stunting his development in scary ways.
For adults the conundrums are different. People I know very well I sometimes do not recognize when I run into them, because their faces are covered. And alternatively, If I think I am able to discern what a person looks like from his masked face, when I see a picture of him or when I see him maskless, I don’t recognize him as the person I saw masked. The nose and the mouth are part of the portrait and removing either presents a mischaracterization of the person’s face.
Especially since we now know that authorities have been lying to us about this virus in many ways and limiting our freedom for power’s sake only – I won’t go into this here – you know the drill – we have to remove all mask mandates as soon as possible, preferably yesterday.
I saw an ad for a summer camp for children. It showed, following current rules, a bunch of masked campers enjoying activities. And, I kid you not, the caption said (and I think it was meant in earnest not in jest) “We are back at camp! Look at all the smiling faces enjoying themselves again!”
I went to a recent panel discussion. The rubberbands of my mask making me lose my expensive hearing aids, I am no longer able to wear both at the same time. Masks are required in this theater – people love to be earnestly following the rules – so proud of themselves. They are helping to keep everyone well. But the inability to wear my aids make it difficult lately for me to hear. In addition, the panelists all wore their masks. For most people with good hearing this is not a problem, but you can imagine how much more difficult it was for ME to hear. I wanted so much to hear what they were saying, so I was straining to try to get as much as I could. This must have given me the appearance of someone who was earnestly listening, more than the rest of the audience, because one of the panelists looked straight at me and gave a whole speech about the importance of what they were talking about. She directed her remarks right at me for a good two minutes – And I heard almost none of what she was saying. But I made her feel good, I guess because I kept up my straining to hear look.
Again, masked, at a meeeting I said hello to someone because we had had a small correspondence and I wanted to introduce myself to her in person. In an email I wrote her I apologized because I had interrupted her when I said hello. I wanted to get home quickly, I explained, because it was getting dark.
She wrote me back.
No problem she told me. I am glad you said hello. It’s always nice to put a face to a name.
And that, my friends is life in these United States these days.
Take the masks off. No more masks. More faces is what we need.
~~Many thanks to The Universal Spectator for reprint permission.