By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
There is an ongoing debate in our nation today over the effectiveness of facemasks preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Some of the debate centers around the perception of government leaders telling us to wear one. I must confess. I don’t like to be told that I have to wear a mask. I can’t stand to wear one if you want to know the truth. I’d make a terrible bank robber because I would pull it off while standing under the surveillance cameras.
But it’s not like the government has not told us to do other things before. Why do you think we have speed limits, seatbelt laws, child seat laws, laws against drunk driving and the list goes on? It is because people do not take responsibility for their actions. As a result, the government steps in. If laws are enacted at some point to require facemasks it will be because people ignored common sense and failed to consider the needs of others.
The truth of the matter is this: it’s not really about me or you. It’s about loving others to the point we are willing to do what’s uncomfortable for the greater good of others.
When COVID-19 victims were nameless faces, I felt sorry for them and prayed they would get over the disease, but they were just names on paper.
In recent weeks, COVID-19 has become very real to me because two good friends have come down with it. One has a milder case while the other one is in very serious condition. It’s no longer people I don’t know who are catching the disease. It is people who I care about.
We all thought COVID-19 cases would go down this summer but they are not. They are spiking in many areas in Tennessee and other states across the nation. Why? Because too many people are not taking precautions by wearing masks in public and trying to social distance. People fail to take into account that they could be carriers of the disease even if they don’t have symptoms.
I know some people feel the coronavirus is a hoax. The disease is real. Just ask Mark LaGrone, a staff minister at First Baptist Church, Collierville (see story). I’d challenge anyone to tell him the disease is not real. He has been battling the coronavirus for more than two months and is likely to for some time to come.
LaGrone said something that hit home for me: “If wearing a mask only helps 0.01 percent then I would wear one every day for the rest of my life so that people would not have to go through what I have gone through.”
It does not get much plainer than that. Those words are from someone who is living with the fatigue and the other hurts and side effects of the coronavirus. The disease is real to him in such a way that he doesn’t want anyone else to go through the pain and suffering he has endured.
This past Sunday, after I had heard about the Collierville minister and his story, I looked at the people I was attending church with. I could not help but think how bad I would feel if I knew I was the cause of any one of them catching the virus.
So, I wear the mask in church and in public settings, especially indoors. As Bro. LaGrone said, if wearing the mask means someone may not catch the virus, I will wear it regardless of how much I dislike it or how uncomfortable it is.
I can’t help but think how uncomfortable our Savior, Jesus Christ, must have been while He was nailed to the cross. But He endured it to take our sins on Himself so we wouldn’t have to spend eternity in hell if we confess our sins and give our lives to Him.
Think of that when you don’t want to put on that mask. It may make you have a change of heart.