Best Practices For A Masked Society

Editor's Note:

Protecting our family and loved ones in this time can be stressful. How can we lighten the load? This Week In Peace will explore ways to make this new world of ours an easier place to move through. Wearing masks is considered essential by some and ineffective by others yet respect for others is always vital in a well-functional society.

Greetings and thanks for reading! Khalilah, your local Peace Dancer here with behind the scenes strategies for an elevated existence. It’s a new world, one where there is protocol in place that did not exist before. Since March 17th, masks and face coverings must be worn in order to enter stores, restaurants and businesses. As a peace dancer and artist, an important aspect of my work is taking the pulse of society by engaging with people. Not only does it delight and amuse me to listen to what our citizens have to say on current issues, it’s also my job to listen. I incorporate the information I gather into my service and my art.

On the subject of masks, there is no shortage of opinions. Each person is entitled to their own. For some, wearing masks is madness. They see it as the essence of the government overreach that is adding to the difficulty of this unstable time in our history. Other people I’ve spoken with view the wearing of masks as common sense, not to mention common courtesy. These folks insist that this practice saves lives. As I walked outdoors beside my partner just yesterday, I was surprised to hear a passing masked woman run by and clearly say, “Single file is best when passing. Practice single file walking please!” She was gone in a flash but I called out, “Thank You!”

Although I didn’t particularly care for her advice on how we should navigate the sidewalk, her actions coincided with one of my core beliefs, something that I feel would make the world a better place to live if everyone did it. What might that be? That people should address one another politely, respectfully and directly if they have something to say. This is number one on the short list of top 5 techniques for getting along peacefully in the “Mask-querade” that we now call life. 

  1. Address With Respect: Modern day culture teaches us to look down on others. Main stream media sends the message that if someone doesn’t drive like us, think like us or live like us, that person is automatically stupid. This attitude of mind has caused countless irritation, altercations and worse. There are 7.5 plus billion people on the planet now. It takes incredibly high levels of energy to hold people in disdain regarding their mask preferences. If you view yourself as intelligent, chances are that other people are intelligent, too. When approaching others, respect is key. Treat people the way you would want to be treated, even when they are “in the wrong.”
  1. Rise Above It: Most of us have our faces covered, which makes it more difficult to deliver and respond to facial cues. Additionally, there is the fact that masks often muffle our voices considerably. Honor the person you are addressing by looking directly at them. Put a smile in your voice even if they can’t see it. Say excuse me, please and thank you when addressing others. Avoid using nonsensical and potentially offensive openers like “Hey bro” or “You there.” Everyone deserves respect no matter how uncouth their behavior might seem to us. Each person has the power to turn an awkward situation around by being calm and kind. This discipline may seem forced or feel fake. It isn’t. If we are addressing someone with the intention of adding to the greater good, it’s worth adjusting our attitudes to a setting of tolerance before speaking.
  2. Smile + Eyes = Smieyes: Smile with your eyes. Go ahead try it. Feel free to gratuitously ramp up the emphasis if people don’t respond. Human beings are expressive creatures. Facial expression is one of the first communication methods we learn from birth to tell us what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in our world. Babies learn this skill at about five months old. Even with their rapidly developing genius brains, it still takes years to master the fine art of interpreting facial expressions. How much more patient must we be as adults while relearning the art of deciphering facial expressions? 
  3. The Gesture Experiment: Perhaps a slight bow or a nod could be an expression of gratitude/ acknowledgement? Remember waving to people? We can still do that! Whatever you choose, friendliness is the goal. We all feel a little more on edge in the face of recent, drastic changes in our daily lives. It costs us nothing to be more understanding of those around us. The brand of friendliness we're discussing here goes above and beyond the casual, offhanded greeting that we would normally give. It includes observing others without judgement while sending love and well wishes toward everyone we encounter. We don’t need to be vocal for this to work. All we need to do is send secret love and well wishes toward people, instead of secret venom. Even if we don’t like someone, we can still wish that person well. True, we will never be perfect at this practice but sending silent hope that others will be happy and healthy WILL return to us tenfold, just as negative complaining thoughts become an unpleasant part of our reality when we practice them. 
  4. The Four Agreements: I reference this book constantly. Author Don Miguel Ruiz is a genius at taking complex concepts and transforming them into something simple. Though this book was written over 20 years before the pandemic, it’s advice lends just as much wisdom to our lives today as it did then. For the sake of not spoiling the book if you haven’t yet read it, we’ll only discuss the two most applicable agreements to our topic today: Don’t Make Assumptions and Don’t Take Anything Personally. It is so easy to make assumptions and take offense. There are people that make careers out of getting offended over things that other people say and do, even if they don’t know those folks personally. In the book, Ruiz explains that everything we experience in life is a projection of ourselves, nothing more. Nothing that others say or do can impact us unless we let it. This is difficult to grasp in our blame/ shame based world, yet it rings true. It is our personal responsibility to manage our emotions and reactions in beneficial ways. "Don’t assume anything," Ruiz advises. We have no real way of knowing why people do the things they do. We may think we know, but really we assume. Rather than making ourselves feel guilty about this, it’s good enough to simply recognize the immense energy that this habit consumes and stop doing it. Our energy is better spent connecting, resting, planning success strategies, or helping others. Even sleeping is a healing and rejuvenating activity far more productive than taking offense over minutia and assuming things that we know nothing about, like other people’s lives and motives. Our good intentions bless the world in countless ways. Better habits = better results for all of us. Thanks and see you out there!