• JKB

What face masks can't protect us from

Updated: May 1

{NOTE: post written April , 2020. References to the Coronavirus and COVID-19 are time-specific, but the principles are timeless}


I'm finding we might need added precautions not against COVID-19 but another sinister condition.


Some people are still dangerously susceptible to "Soundstupiditus", even with a mask on every face (I include myself in this vulnerable category).



From the first days of COVID, we’ve felt the need to form opinions about what we think is best. Obviously, we need to make decisions for our own safety and those we care about. But the urge to articulate an opinion also stems from our social media era: There is a default expectation that you and I make public statements about any number of political, medical and cultural topics long before most of us have enough information.


We are all wrestling with questions like...


If I was to ask, you might have some well-formed perspectives based on news you’ve heard, medical professionals with whom you’ve spoken or personal experience.

What should we do?

What should our nation do next?

What responsibility do we have in the midst of this?


While I certainly wish I had more answers to these important questions, I think I can help us think more clearly and reduce unnecessary panic.


Proverbs is a collection of evergreen wisdom generated largely, if not entirely, by Solomon, king of the nation of Israel from approximately 970 to 931 BCE. In this collection, you'll find a treasure trove of principles that will successfully guide life (you might already utilize some of them without knowing the source documents).

Proverbs 18 alone will build plenty of immunity from Soundstupiditus.


Some excerpts...


Fools find no pleasure in understanding

but delight in airing their own opinions.

(Proverbs 18:2, New International Version)


To answer before listening—

that is folly and shame.

(Proverbs 18:13, New International Version)


And I get particularly inspired by this next one...


Intelligent people are always ready to learn.

Their ears are open for knowledge.

(Proverbs 18:15, New Living Translation)


I approach most dialogue about complex issues with 3 basic assumptions:

  1. I am partially informed.

  2. I am routinely misled.

  3. I am almost uncontrollably biased.


How can I assume this? Why should you?

  1. You likely can't have all pertinent information. (partially informed)

  2. Most news (algorithmically catered, of course) is crafted to be read, liked and shared. Being accurate, thorough or balanced isn't necessary, nor effective in some cases, to accomplish these ends. (misled)

  3. You have ingrained inclinations and preferences based on your status, your experience, your fears, your pride and your tribe. (biased)

I'll give you a quick (and somewhat uncomfortable) example from these complicated times. You might be of the opinion that...


1. Opening the country will harm people.

We will likely see a swell of infections and fatalities due to Coronavirus.

We will see a strain on the medical community and resources.

We will see further economic challenges as businesses that used to operate one way are having to go through massive expense and development to operate in a new way.


You would not be wrong. However...


2. Keeping things in quarantine will harm people.

Addictive behaviors are rising rapidly. (here and here)

Suicide is rising rapidly.

We are facing a probable hunger and clean water pandemic that, due to the lock-downs, will possibly kill more people than an unbridled virus.

Bottom line: Everything is a trade off.


This doesn't lead to a simple solution. I haven't even scratched the surface of all important factors that must be weighed to know what to do next, when to do it and how.


Anyone spouting one, "no-brainer-isn't-it-obvious-what-we-should-do-you-idiots" perspective, tweet or protest isn't practicing the humility, curiosity and compassion that these times demand of us.

I find when people double-down on one side or another, when they become allergic to seeing the world from a different angle, it’s because they’re trying to answer one of two questions for themselves:

  1. Am I right?! (who likes being wrong?!)

  2. Am I safe?! (who likes being in danger?!)


These are common fears, but they lead to common foolishness. Even viciousness.


The call of Proverbs is wisdom and compassion.

Wisdom doesn’t need to have all the right answers, wisdom is dedicated to discovering more answers.

Compassion isn’t just concerned with our own safety, but cares about the vulnerabilities of others.


Let me close with one, last driving assumption:

God doesn't want you to be afraid.

God wants you to live with the courage to do what's necessary, love that doesn't wait for the perfect conditions and sound judgement.

Have courage.

Act in love.

Be thoughtful.


This is the cure for Soundstupiditus.

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