The Masks We Wear

It is my observation that very few people I’ve met in this life do NOT mask their feelings, intentions, or persona. And those people I’ve met who ARE frank, open, and unassuming in this way are often described by others as rude, impolite, or judgmental … a deviation from the norm that seems to upset folks. I have always felt that was a very strange reaction to unadorned honesty. I prefer to associate with people who do not answer my questions with questions and speak without reservation. I always know where I stand with them and what they think … because when I ask they tell. Does this behavior make others feel uncomfortable in their presence? Yes, quite often. But I respect the transparency of their communication style. It’s refreshing and far more comfortable and real to me than most of the conversations I hear going on around me. I just look forward to a day when society evolves to the point where these masks of artificial propriety are unnecessary for us to wear in order to get along with each other. A person can be polite and honest at the same time. One does not necessarily preclude the other. You don’t have to be socially graceless when expressing your truth unless you wish to offend or draw attention to an injustice that’s being ignored. Why do you think rape and domestic abuse victims wear masks of “I’m okay. Everything’s fine.” Is it because they are afraid of how others will treat them if they knew the truth? Or is it because they believe that no one really wants to know? The woman standing next to you in line at the grocery market could be experiencing massive chaos in her life and is feeling isolated, helpless, and afraid. And yet when you say “Good morning. How are you today?”, she responds with “Fine, and you?” Polite, mundane conversation ensues and everyone goes about their life none the wiser. Now think of the impact that an honest answer would have had on both you and this woman in line had she removed her mask of propriety and told you she was afraid to go home, that her husband beats her. You see, this is the difference I’m talking about. Would you feel uncomfortable hearing her truth? Would you offer help or advice, or would you walk away … thereby keeping your personal world in balance while hers continues to crumble? Sit with that thought for a moment. Look, we can all make a difference in this world but at some point along the way, you have to be willing to discard the mask you wear that separates your reality from the rest. You have to be willing to get up close and personal to a situation in order to change it. And these masks we wear … these masks prevent the kind of exposure necessary to bring about transformation.

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