No, not talking about the Lone Ranger – back before that fictional character was nothing but a foil for a comic actor (now blacklisted by Hollywood in another example of arrogance).
Actually I’m talking about a man I saw a few days ago. It is a true story with a moral and a disappointing end – not unexpected but disappointing.
I and my family were at the church meetinghouse about 45 minutes before our worship assembly was scheduled: we were helping prepare and clean and sanitize everything. This man, who has visited before, came in, asking about when class and worship would start, then sat down.
He told me, “I’m wearing a mask because I’m 68 and have diabetes.”
I assured him no one in the congregation would object to him wearing a mask or not shaking hands. It was each person’s choice.
That seemed to agitate him, and he then told me, “I’ve filed a petition with a federal judge to force everyone to wear masks all the time.”
I replied, “It is your right to wear or not wear a mask, but we don’t believe you have any right or power to force someone else to wear a mask. And therefore isn’t it wrong to ask a judge to force people to do that?”
He then explained how many people had died, how South Dakota was the worst State in the nation, how Biden would make everyone wear masks, and how sinful it was for me and my family not to wear masks. He threatened to leave, but after walking around a bit, sat down again.
“If you were real christians, if you loved people, you would wear masks. All the scientists say masks keep you safe and others safe.” (I’m paraphrasing his words.)
“Well, the science is undecided and a lot of people don’t believe that masks really protect us – or others. But fortunately, our government here [in South Dakota and Rapid City] doesn’t try to force us to do so,” I replied, tactfully, I think. “We are still a free state, and we are treated like adults by the people in Pierre and City Hall.”
He then explained to me how Trump is evil and has been and is killing Americans by not locking things down. And how Noem (SD’s governor) is also evil and a liar, but fortunately, Biden was a good Christian man who would make everyone do the right thing.
“I don’t think most politicians tell the truth, but fortunately, they don’t have the power to force us to do things like that.”
“But you HAVE to obey our rulers,” he responded and cited Roman 13. “And we have to esteem them and revere them. God says so.”
I suggested that the passage did not say that, and that we are to respect them, but that doesn’t mean obey them if they tell us to do something wrong or which they don’t have the power to make us do.”
“But God gave them that power! And if you don’t wear a mask, you are killing people like me. And so are Trump and Noem! They are evil and they are liars. But Biden will do what is right.”
We were, of course, now going over the same arguments, and I again told him I respected his opinion but disagreed. And excused myself to finish the work I needed to do to get ready for worship. At some point, he disappeared, and I saw his car leave the parking lot.
Looking back at the incident, I think there are several lessons to be learned and remembered:
- People are often very irrational on the entire Pandemic business.
- He is far from the only person who has demanded that others wear masks, socially distance (not just from the complainer but anyone else – including family), and agree with him completely on science and politics.
- Although he stated that he believed that he was (according to God) supposed to revere, esteem, and obey government leaders, he very clearly did not do so: his rather vicious remarks about Trump, Noem, and others demonstrated his inconsistency.
- Such people always try to mobilize the power of the state (like his petition to a federal judge) to force people to do what he believes is essential.
- When someone stands up to them, however politely, they react negatively. In his case, he apparently stormed off, as if his absence was punishing me, my family, and the congregation. Some flee, others react with more and more condemnation, or even violence.
- People like this need our pity and our prayers, even while we take care not to be harmed by their acts, physical, legal, or otherwise.
Fortunately, sometimes people like this DO listen, and observe. I know of several people as freaked out as he was. But people who listened and watched and thought matters through, and have decided they were wrong. That the Pandemic is NOT a significant threat to most people, that the Panic and the Lockdown were a dangerous and damaging over-reaction.
And that masks don’t work to prevent infection, and have far more serious negative affects on people. Especially children.
So my point is, it doesn’t hurt to talk and respond to people like this – even if we anger them. Because some people WILL listen and escape their ignorance and faith in government.
And become a little bit free. “For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”