Sorry, Conciliators, There Is No Middle Here

The world needs conciliators, people who try to bring two sides together to find common ground.

These are the consensus-builders and compromise-finders. They help the world move forward by rounding off the jagged edges of debates and disagreements between those of us who see the world from more of a solely right or wrong, up or down point of view.

Speaking of up or down, imagine a single hill, viewed from a distance. Now imagine someone standing at the peak, waving down at people at the base of both sides of the hill. That’s the conciliator, and their job is to bring some of those people below closer to the top, a.k.a., “the middle” or “the higher ground.”

They are important.


But this is not a usual time.

As we struggle through the deadly coronavirus pandemic, I believe the conciliators are not helping. In fact, I believe that, by lending credence to science deniers, the conciliators are actually doing harm.

Focus on Facts

Right now in the United States of America and around the world, wearing a mask in public is the most effective way we have for slowing down the spread of coronavirus, especially when it’s combined with physical distancing and hand washing.

Wearing a mask protects the people we come into contact with from the coronavirus we might be spreading, even if we’re symptom free.

It’s called “source control.”

As the scientists and medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state, “COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear cloth face coverings in public settings and practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people).”

This is not someone’s opinion. Rather, this is science, supported with data collected by people who have spent lifetimes studying infectious diseases and how to control them.

This is fact.

Mask Wearing is Not a Grey Area

The importance of wearing a mask in public is not a matter for debate, discussion or opinion. There are no two sides with valid arguments. It has nothing to do with how one feels, what one believes or which candidate for president one supports. This is neither a communication issue nor a mere misunderstanding. It definitely is not a healthy disagreement.

This absolutely is not about liberty or freedom, because neither liberty nor freedom confer the right to act or fail to act in ways that harm others.

Graphic asking people to wear a mask amidst coronavirus pandemic

Finally, this damn sure isn’t something that can be solved by “finding middle ground.”

On the contrary, the science is clear.

People who wear masks in public protect our fellow human beings from coronavirus in the immediate circumstances, slow its spread and help defeat it overall.

People who refuse to wear masks in public are responsible for spreading the virus, for prolonging this deadly pandemic and, yes, even for creating an environment that leads to the deaths of U.S. citizens. They are a danger to you, your family and friends; to me, my family and friends; and to every other person with whom they come in contact.

The fact that this has become a new battle in the culture war that has plagued the United States for decades, pitting people who believe in science and subject matter experts against anti-intellectualists, doesn’t matter either.

No Middle Ground Here

Yet conciliators, perhaps to their credit, are trying to view the space in between, to formulate a bigger picture from which can be extrapolated compromises and alternate solutions.

There are none.

And, unfortunately, some stand atop the hill and wave a shaming finger at the unreasonable hordes “on the extremes” of what they dismissively call the “mask debate” or “mask issue.”

Usually, they’re saying something like:

  • “It’s OK if some people believe in wearing masks and others don’t.”
  • “People need to be reasonable, moderate their positions, try to put themselves in the shoes of someone on the other side of the argument.”
  • “If only people entrenched on both sides were better, more empathetic communicators, we wouldn’t be having this problem.”
  • “People who choose not to wear masks have very good reasons for not doing so.”

No, they don’t. In fact, by definition there is no “reason” backing up the science deniers.

Correct. Factual. Science-Based.

I am all for gaining a better understanding of my fellow citizens and trying to find ways to get along better with them.

I am not willing, however, to debate something that is scientifically proven to be a key to ensuring the health and safety of my family, myself and my neighbors, whether they live down the street, across the country or on the other side of the world.

Mask wearers are not “extreme.” We are simply intelligent enough to accept the findings of people who have dedicated their lives to preparing for this moment in our history.

So – Mask or no mask?


There simply is no other correct, factual, science-based answer.

Maybe Sit This One Out

Conciliators, I love you. You help the world go around. We need you. And if your interest is in getting people to treat one another better, more power to you.

But do not – DO NOT – suggest there are two valid sides to wearing a mask in the battle against coronavirus.

If you believe that or it’s part of your strategy, please sit this one out. We’ll all be better off.


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Featured image by IkeHayden.

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Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


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