Why do I become so upset when people tell me to put a mask on?
Because I am sick and tired of people telling me what to do and how to act. There is this sickening authoritarian quality to how people treat each other (at least in California) that I can’t stand. To be clear, the authoritarianism to which I speak is this underlying assumption that the state (or corporation — though they have liability to deal with so that may be nuanced) knows best. The underpinnings of this assumption of superiority, as best I can tell, stems from a certain determinism about human beings — that people should not be trusted to make decisions if that can be avoided; That the state should have the right to help prod or compel the right choice from people if the decision in question is important enough. And again, this is because humans are not to be trusted if they don’t have to be.
But even if this is the case, why would that offend me? After all, I do in general find fellow humans detestable and unreliable. I don’t even trust myself fo often!
I feel like it has its root in Free Will and the right to choice. Despite science’s best efforts, we have been unable to fully grasp why it is and how it has occurred that humans are so uniquely self-conscience. I am not talking about intelligence, which in fact is a shared attribute with many animals. I mean the inexplicable awareness of our own Being, our own existence. Humans are the only creatures to ever learn that we can routinely sacrifice immediate satisfaction for a larger payout in the future. This idea of bargaining for our futures is in no small way a building block of our civilizations on this planet. And seeing that it has worked so well for us, this unique attribute of consciousness takes on an almost sacred quality; or in the works of the Old Testament: made in God’s image; a touch of the divine.
Going back to my initial question, why the frustration with the mask? By the authorities enforcing or expecting obedience, it insults our divine nature. Who are they to understand our circumstances? Who are they to know better than us the decisions we aught to make?
Many make the claim that the masses are uneducated and therefore this is a silly and wrong line of reasoning. While I agree that the masses are ignorant and sometimes foolish, I do not see that as grounds for dismissal of this argument. These so called foolish people built society. These people are the ones that keep the wheels of industry and economy moving forward.
Let us not forget to point out that the masses have never been more educated in the history of the world. Access to information has never been easier nor more convenient. The average education level is higher than it has ever been. The education required to work qualified jobs has never been higher.
If we trusted the ignorant masses to dredge up out of the dark ages of 1200 A.D., or to wage a world war for people being subjected to genocide, how then can we no strip them of that trust now?
Two reasons appear to me:
1. Simple hypocrisy — the state knows full well that people should have the right to a choice in this matter. Thus it has simply decided to use its authority in a perverse manner for some ill-derived reason.
2. There has been a shift in people’s philosophies — “A touch of the divine” is too traditional to be taken seriously. When religion was debunked and stripped from people’s life structure, at the advent of modernization, we chose to forget such phrases. Thus, perhaps we never even had a divine spark to begin with. Perhaps, we are not special on this planet, maybe even just animals. and if we are just animals, there is no boundaries that need to be respected if the situation arises where a violation is needed.
Both of these reasons are appalling or even frightening to me. Perhaps some of my anger is fear that these principles will expand to control more decisions I ought to be making. Perhaps it is offensive to me to see anyone treating me in a way that confirms their underlying assumptions about who I am as an individual.
I think protesters of the Stay-At-Home orders are feeling this same as me, though perhaps in not such an articulated manner. They feel something is wrong with this in the heart. Thus they choose to protest these commands by the state. If this is their motivations, then I applaud their bravery to step out into the unknown of their own minds. They have chosen to speak up before they can even articulate why. To me that is an act of faith.
Let us all just hope that such deterministic assumptions about who we humans are as individuals does not become the norm. If it does, I worry we might lose the very part of ourselves that makes us special.