Dear Editor

For your consideration, and I take the chance of being roasted.

I met an old friend at a grocery store parking lot the other day. I had seen the For Sale sign go up at his house, then the Sold, over the course of the summer but with the distancing I did not stop. Twice before I thought I saw him but with a mask and dark glasses, I could not be certain and did not take the chance of startling a stranger in these days of fear. This time I yelled and he heard.

He said he was leaving to go live with his son and this was his last day here. There was small talk of old times and new; then we parted. Left unspoken was the mutual recognition that we would probably never see each other again. Life’s road has taken a turn. There is no sadness in that, but there is regret. I did not get to see his smile for the last time.

In my life and memory are faces. Some seem imprinted, others like wispy clouds. Life measured by and with faces. But faces are being removed for safety purposes, to save the vulnerable; of which by demographics, I am one. I am old now and like my bud, the turn in my road is on the horizon. Possibilities in front slim down as the trove of memories increases. Memories of faces.

It does brings me sadness to see the human face disappear. Mostly for the young who must hide their youth on my behalf. Deprived of the opportunity to learn from the facial expressions of family and strangers alike. No space for examples here except watch a baby’s reaction to facial expressions, or look up the Still Face Experiment (c.1978). A mask wearer is the equivalent of ‘still face’. The damage is insidious.

Fear travels with the mask. If not so, why are they worn? Children are now raised in a faceless society, rife with anxieties, with little chance to judge others’ states of mind and deprived opportunity in doing so.

If it is self-centred to wish coming generations experience all of life’s lessons expressed on faces, then I am guilty. I wish for them to freely experience the empathy which comes with reading a face. To discern danger and recognize joy. Experience love at first sight. And doubly damned – a peck on the cheek. To preserve this most precious part of humanity for those who are just starting on the road, I will gladly take my chances and accept the consequences. What used to be called freedom. But I am only one.

If questioning the conditions agreed upon to free the monies now so easily available on a debt that can never be repaid in dollars is circumspect. Or knowing that a power position which, once taken by government, has never been completely given back equals sedition: then guilty on all counts.

I say freedom has a price.

Gordon Fraser