The Masks We Wear: What Are They Hiding?
During this pandemic, I am very conscious of wearing my mask and hope everyone else is too.
In normal times, I encourage people not to wear masks that disguise who they really are.
Generally, we can recognize masks. We have a sense that our brother or sister is not authentic, that they are pretentious, and we call them a sham. We do not realize that in the unexposed roots of these exteriors, the mask is only a cry of pain and the need to be understood and loved into life.
Most of the obnoxious qualities that we find in others are the result of some kind of defensive convergence on self, and we openly resent this self-centered posture. We must learn to look through the sham and pretense of our fellow human beings. We must try to alleviate the pain and lonely voids that have constructed these defense walls. Direct attacks on these defenses will only produce their reinforcement.
The surest way for harmony and peace is to go to others: to love them, to accept them, wherever they are, to care for them, and to be patient with them, hard as that may be.
The thing that keeps us from going out to and loving others in this caring way is a four-letter word: pain. Psychological pain, doubts, anxieties, fears — these are the tyrants that imprison us. All obnoxious qualities in we human beings are really cries of pain and calls for help — the liar, the braggart, the deceiver, the arrogant, and the self-centered. All these are only poses designed to stifle and conceal the ache inside the hearts of those who cannot love themselves.
We fail to realize that the masks are worn only as long as they are needed. Only the reassurance of accepting and understanding love will lure the anxious, the guilt-ridden, and the supposedly inferior persons out from behind their defenses.
Bob Mueller is the Presiding Bishop of the United Catholic Church.