Have you ever considered the moment when something becomes a social justice issue?
It is that place where personal choice begins to impede another’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because of something they can’t control.
Masks are a social justice issue.
They are there to protect the lives of those who have chronic illnesses or who have reached an age that puts them at risk. Not just their physical lives, but also their ability to have contact with anyone right now. The opportunity to go out at all. The chance to actually live, not just survive.
In the midst of a disease that we know so little about, the scientific community has found that a simple bit of cloth can make the difference in keeping the disease spread down. Along with physical distancing, of course.
I’ve heard many around me say that it is a very personal choice for them to make as to whether they are going to wear a mask or not.
Thanks to the liberties we are afforded in this country, they are correct.
Nevertheless, every time I hear that I realize that they are (usually unthinkingly) saying that their right to do what they want matters more than their neighbor’s right to have a full life.
Jesus spent his life on earth preaching and doing ministry with those whose lives have been deemed less important by others. Women. The poor. The marginalized. And especially the sick. He cared for their physical bodies as much as their afterlife. He taught us that followers of Christ are meant to care for the weakest and poorest before we care for those who have what they need. Because while God loves everyone, God has always been specially protective and active in the lives of those who were born different or do not have what they need. Jesus was one who fought for social justice with every breath he took.
My family is one of those at high risk of getting the disease. Many of our neighbors are telling us that our life is unimportant – not just the physical one, but the flourishing one we’re meant to have. Stay home, they say. But we did not choose to be high risk. It comes from something that is out of our control.
All we need is a little piece of fabric. That’s it.
Jesus has proven on which side he would be. The question is, how many will join him.