The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
So far, more than 600,000 Americans have died from the virus or its complications. For those who survive it, thanks to extraordinary efforts by hospitals, doctors, and nurses, too many are debilitated and weakened, physically laid up for months or longer. Many need extended physical therapy to regain normal functioning.
Worldwide, with many hotspots especially from variants of Covid-19, 4.14 million men, women, teens, youth, children, and seniors have died.
So without question this pandemic is a serious health and societal matter – which means how we choose to protect ourselves from being infected has become very important.
The Baha’i Stance on Science and Medicine
For myself, my wife, my grown children, 95% of my large family, and my dozens of friends, we’ve all decided that yes, masks are restrictive but are easy to get used to. We wear masks for two reasons: to protect ourselves from being infected, and to protect others from catching the virus from us if we’re asymptomatic carriers.
So masks have two purposes – self-protection, and protection of other people and the health of the public. Wearing a mask sends a message: that I care about your health. It signals a sense of unity and solidarity with all humanity.
That conclusion comes not only from the scientists, but because as a Baha’i, I believe in the oneness of humanity and the essential agreement of science and religion. In a talk he gave in the United States in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha – the son and successor of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, said:
The third principle or teaching of Baha’u’llah is the oneness of religion and science. Any religious belief which is not conformable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore, the two must correspond. Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man. If we say religion is opposed to science, we lack knowledge of either true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason, and both must bear its test.
Baha’is trust Baha’u’llah as “the Divine Physician,” a messenger of God with his fingers on the pulse of humanity. The Baha’i writings are clear – Baha’u’llah advised everyone in his Most Holy Book to turn to qualified doctors, or experts, for what ails us:
Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause.
Those “material means” – the reason, rationality, and evidence-based practices of the science of health – are why Baha’is trust science as well.
I understand that not everyone feels that way, and that many, many, many people and businesses are fed up with restrictions. It’s been since January 2020 that we began with them, first on air flights and travel, then building up to every locality in the world through government intervention.
But now mask-wearing has become a movement – a smart movement. My wife and I have colorfully-designed masks made by an artist friend. We keep extra masks in the house and our car glove compartments, so they’re always handy. In New Jersey where we live, many things have reopened (carefully), yet most state, county, or municipal offices or public places like libraries still require masks at all times to enter.
However, I’m fully vaccinated now, so why do I still have masks handy?
Because not everyone is vaccinated, and the virus isn’t dying out on its own. In reality, it’s morphing, as all viruses do in order to find more human hosts. Its variants are wreaking a new cycle of havoc, and 99 per cent of Covid-19 deaths befall the unvaccinated.
So I keep my masks handy, just in case – and I’m still kicking.