Despite the controversy over whether or not masks are effective for combating a virus, New York City continues to expect riders to strap the ubiquitous blue paper guards across mouth and nose before traveling via public transportation. On their destination indicator, our buses alternate between naming the terminal point and “Masks Required” flashes. Likewise, many businesses, pharmacies and medical offices either require or strongly recommend covering up before entering their premises. Fashion statements aside, the inexpensive blue paper veil remains the easiest nose and mouth concealment before coming into close contact with the public.
Some adaptations, of course, are acceptable. Passengers who board mass transit carrying a cup of coffee or snack can certainly drop the facial guard between sips and bites. However, other accommodations appear strange at first glance. For example, before ticket holders are permitted to enter the Winter Garden Theatre to enjoy the Tony-award winning “Music Man,” they may have to follow strict protocols, which include facial coverings, verification of vaccination, negative test results and other restrictions as well. In the orchestra pit, they will see musicians in the woodwind and brass sections with a poked hole in their masks so they can connect their lips with the mouthpiece of their instruments.
Whether inconvenient or odd, one thing is clear. These precautions are displays of the Christian virtue of consideration. After love for God, Jesus called such love for neighbor the second greatest commandment.
During July, Americans celebrate liberty and justice for all. Again, the virtue of being considerate is apropos. Instead of fighting for freedom and suing for fairness, following Christ’s commands would ensure independence and equality for any tired, poor or huddled masses yearning to breathe freely.
Red, white and blue, besides being our traditional American colors, are among the easiest lights for human eyes to identify in the evening. This is why airports prefer these shades at night so pilots can easily distinguish between runway landings and taxi lanes. When citizens suffer through dark times we can turn to the red, white and blue of Old Glory to recall the high price paid for independence. Many virtues may come to mind when we think of our yearning for liberty and justice. However, consideration for other people should certainly be at the top of that list.
Eventually, the mask restrictions will disappear. Being thoughtful of others should not. So how often might parents and teachers have to remind children to be considerate of God and neighbor? Probably until they are blue in the face.
Let’s celebrate the Fourth of July by placing a mask, preferably red, white or blue, in the center of the dinner table. Each time we pass by this covering, let’s make a promise, first to God and then to at least one other person that we want to do something special for them to show our consideration for how much they mean to us. And after practicing these two greatest commandments, let’s ask God to continue to bless America.
Father Pagliari's monthly Holy Homework column can be found at https://www.cny.org.
Comments can be sent to: FatherBobPagliari@Yahoo.com