By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
27 September 2010
The Season of Masks
In a few sort weeks we’ll get the knocks on the door saying “trick or treat” from behind little homemade and store bought masks. We’ll open our doors, reach for a bowl and dole out a little treat often with a reply of “thank you”.
All hallows eve is fine if you want to participate by leaving the inviting porch light on. But what about the masks people wear that we don’t plan for, that we don’t expect?
Some people choose to wear a mask of who they are because they are afraid that if you really got to know them then you would not like them. Many of these people have a fear of rejection so they try to blend in.
Some people walk the streets in tattered and worn mis-fitting clothes talking to themselves seemingly without a care. They too are afraid that if you really got to know them then you would not like them.
Both of these groups have the same deep needs. Both want to belong, to love, be loved, and respected. The group with the mask makes an effort not to be discovered. The group with the tattered and worn mis-fitting clothes needs to be discovered. Both should not be pitied, but rather helped. Both are running from a stigma, one from what you can’t see and one from you can see.
There are the dangerous masks also.
Finding out that a women who has been put in charge of supervising people convicted of a crime and daily making recommendations to a judge whether that convicted person should be incarcerated or not has once poisoned the family pet out of anger and has never been punished should be a mask you’d want removed.
Finding out a person convicted of crimes against children and is hanging around the school yard should be a mask you’d want removed.
We expect masks at the end of October. We know other masks are worn during the rest of the year.
There are those in power who have a public mask for those who elected them who can’t bear to have their true selves revealed. Many of them will be out of a job shortly because their mask covered their ears when it should have covered their mouths.
People have fear and anger because that is built into each one of us. We need both to be able to navigate many of life’s circumstances. Both are helpful in the correct amounts.
Fear can be taken to an extreme where one is afraid to step out side the house, afraid of elevators, or crowds. This type of fear is a treatable medical condition of a mental illness.
Anger can be taken to an extreme where ones own family is afraid to say or do anything rather than risk the wrath of the abuser. This type of anger is a mask of abuse. In this case the abuser is blaming the victim for the abuser’s actions. This mask should be removed. The treatment for the abuser is much more than an anger management class which he can manipulate himself through. The abuser really needs to want to do the tough work to change.
If a masked person walked into a store with a mask on and a gun in hand you would recognize the intentions right away.
If a masked child rang your doorbell one night in October and said trick or treat you would recognize the intentions right away.
You may not see or recognize other masks people wear. These other masks may or may not be harmful to you, but they maybe to the person wearing them.
All masks can be removed. There may be unpleasant consequences to the removal the masks, but the one who wore the mask and those around him or her will be better off once the mask is removed and their condition treated.
Rev. Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and founder of the Family Renewal Center. http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org