I have listened and watched with great admiration the number of campaigns and advertisements on the use of facemask and how many people are trying their utmost to get use to wearing them; amidst the discomfort, sometimes the forgetfulness to carry one along, as go about with our duties can be inconveniencing and the stress of handling it, when it is necessary to take it off. However, on a lighter tone, very little attention is paid to the kind of people behind the facemask, which literally disguises our faces and facial expressions.
I am an ardent crusader of the use of facemask as precautionary measure to dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, however, on the other hand, as a security alert a little care and precaution should be paid to those behind these facemasks. Individually and as a nation, this should also be a matter of concern.
Before COVID -19, the people who were seen often using facemasks were doctors, nurses and armed robbers. The medical personnel used or still use it for very good reasons, while the armed robbers used it to disguise themselves. This helps them to perform their clandestine activities certain times. To combat the COVID- 19, the whole world has joined in on the use of facemasks. This measure does not alienate the armed robbers from their usual reason for wearing facemasks. In fact, they will capitalize on the situation now, as this will make it easier for them in their operation, as we all turn to “look alike now;” they are now going to kill two birds with one stone.
Furthermore, the use of facemask makes it difficult to correlate people’s facial expression with their thought, because this correlation is a necessity for communication lest when one is not careful in picking up a quarrel with someone in facemask he or she might get hurt or hit unexpectedly. Since we cannot read the facial expression of people in facemasks, we have to be mindful of the choice of words we use: helpful words and not hurtful words as scripture advised.
A kind advice would be when it is so necessary to deal with someone you do not know or are meeting for the first time, from a distance, it would be appropriate to ask the person to pull down his facemask for a moment before you can engage with the person. If the person resists, call off the meeting until COVID – 19 is over.
This also extends to people in facemask we might be dealing with on social media, for instance, video calls, virtual meetings or conference and so on. If the person is not with other people, it would be appropriate to gently ask him or her to drop his facemask. It is important to do the same if he or she requests. At least, this will accord both of you the opportunity to know whom you are dealing with.
Be careful whom you deal with, particularly, those who show up at your doorstep, whether you know them or not. Be mindful of your security in the midst of the fight against COVID – 19, for both are equally important.
Stay safe, wear your facemask and be security alert at all times.
Written by: Nicholas Aazine, SVD
Divine Word Missionary
(Coordinator for Justice and Peace, Integrity of Creation – JPIC)