The New Scorned

Someone made a comment recently after the Colorado governor instituted a “mask required” in public places requirement, that the number of people with asthma rose sharply. That is, the number of people using asthma as the reason they didn’t need to wear a mask at Walmart shot up like a rocket.

A lady responded that her 8-year-old son does have asthma and breathing is difficult with a mask on. I expressed my condolences to her and told her that I hoped he’d be okay in these coming days.

The situation kept roaming around in my mind last night and it occurred to me that in these tense uncertain days that those who truly can’t wear a mask are the new scorned. They are the ones who will be yelled at and cussed out even though they have a valid reason for, odd as it sounds, showing their whole face.

In the coming days, they will be the ones marginalized by the masses, the latest in a long line of unique individuals ostracized for something they have no control over. Think about it. I can remember when, in our church climate, a divorced person seemed to have a scarlet “D” hanging around their neck. It didn’t matter if the spouse had run off with her best friend, the stigma stuck.

Growing up in a conservative community, there were also those young guys who were viewed with suspicion because they had long hair. Long hair meant anything touching the ears. People mioght cross the street to keep their distance from those boys who were just about another inch away from the juvenile reformatory.

Baptists have looked with suspicion at Pentecostals, physicians at chiropractors, anyone looking at new cars at car salespeople, Target shoppers at Walmart frequenters.

Now, in all the pleading and urgency expressed for people to wear a mask, and the emphasis of each one of us doing our part to stop the pandemic, there are those who legitimately can’t. When most of us see an unmasked person we scoff and invisibly spit him. We assume that he’s being uncooperative and doesn’t care about anyone but himself.

He’s the new leper. In Jesus’ day, someone with leprosy had to call out and say “Unclean” if someone came to close to him. Leprosy was the separater of those who were considered valued and relevant and those who were pushed to the margins and avoided.

Jesus raised a few eyebrows when he showed mercy to the lepers and treated them as precious children of God.

As we go through these difficult days when our anxiety and prejudices seem to rise to the surface, may we not be so quick to judge, but ready to show compassion; more ready to pray than point the finger.

boy wearing surgical mask

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

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