Masks: The Modern Day Brazen Serpent

I’m going to get a bit religious here for a moment. Not in a preachy way (I hope), but in an “I learned something new about people today” kind of a way that requires some religious background for it to make sense.

Growing up, I learned in church all about Moses and the brazen serpent. If you don’t know about the story, the quick overview is that when the Israelites were complaining in the wilderness, poisonous snakes showed up, killing a bunch of them. Moses lifted up a bronze serpent on a pole, telling the people that if they’d look at the serpent, they wouldn’t die from the snake bites. This is referenced again in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 17:41), where it says “the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.”

I never got the point of that story. If I was feeling sick, and someone told me all I had to do to feel better was to look at a bronze serpent, wouldn’t I at least give it a shot? I mean, we’re talking poisonous snakes here. I’d look at a bronze elephant if it gave me snake immunity. And yet there were the Israelites, not looking and choosing to die instead.

The pandemic has shown me I was just overestimating humanity’s willingness to do simple things to avoid bad things. Today, we’re told that if we would all just start wearing masks, COVID-19 would essentially wither away and die. It wouldn’t spread fast enough to keep going. True, this means a lot of us would need to wear a mask even when we aren’t sick (or don’t feel sick), but if all of us put on a mask (even if just 70% of us put on a mask, according to some studies!) we could go back to the life we all remember in February.

This is a really low bar. Yes, it requires slightly more commitment than looking at a bronze serpent, but we’re not talking rocket science here. And there are many, many countries who have done the mask wearing thing and are reaping the benefits. Japan. Czech Republic. Slovakia. Austria. We’re seeing many examples of places where it’s effective.

Basically, COVID-19 is adding a dress code to the requirements for the “Having a Successful Country and Economy” restaurant. America is standing outside, wanting to go in, but finding itself without the required article of clothing. There’s one right there, waiting for us to put on, but we want to go in anyway.

I know people have Reasons for not wanting to wear a mask. I know those reasons include everything from “I found this study that says masks aren’t that effective” to “My ancestors didn’t die so that I was forced to wear a mask in this free country” to “Trump doesn’t wear a mask.” But really, is it too much to ask to try it out? A couple of months of mask wearing, and see where the country is.

Just look at the bronze serpent, people. The more research that comes out around this, the more it seems we’re hellbent on hurting ourselves needlessly.


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1 thought on “Masks: The Modern Day Brazen Serpent”

  1. A couple of thoughts.

    One is to consider a bit of a slant, a slight tweaking of interpretation in relation to the fact that people wouldn’t even look up at the brazen serpent when that option was offered to them. This was discussed once in a Sunday School class I was in, and someone offered an emphasis on the word “them” in the scripture account. They didn’t think it would heal THEM, so this is why they didn’t look. Perhaps it would work for others, but not for them. Maybe they thought they were unworthy. It’s an interesting take on the matter. Personally, I think some folks didn’t look because they were too proud to do it, thought that made them sheep or something. They’d rather die than do what they were told by their prophet!

    The other thought is that I am amazed (and appalled) that wearing masks has become politicized. So, if you wear a mask you are considered to be a softie liberal, because the government is telling you what to do. If you don’t wear a mask you are, by way of contrast, a tough conservative because you have an independent mind of your own and no government is going to tell you what to do. The concept that this is a MEDICAL issue, not a political party issue, seems to have eluded the folks in the second category. Hard to believe that people can be divided over prevention of disease, but it appears that this is what the situation has devolved into.

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