As I was leaving class today, I noticed a large group of people standing around and talking amongst themselves. I also noticed cars stopped in the middle of the parking lot. What in the world has happened? Then I looked at the road. I noticed ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and two pretty smashed up cars. There had been a wreck directly in front of the campus. I immediately looked, and tried to see if anyone was hurt. The wreck didn't look too bad. As I was walking past this large crowd of people I could hear them talking about the wreck. Apparently some of them saw it happen. I just kept walking, and glancing over at the road. Then I stoppped dead in my tracks. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with us? Why are we watching this whole scene play out? Have we really become this desensitized to violence?
Think about it. When you're on the highway and notice a wreck, you immediately gawk and try to figure out what happened. Concern for the people in the accident is usually secondary. We are bombarded my images of violence each and every day. The News almost glamorizes things like war and devastation. Real tragedy isn't viewed as something negative, it's entertainment for most of us. Whenever there is a major disater in the world, people immediately start thinking of ways to profit from it. Just take a second to think about how many movies and tv shows are about war and natural disasters.
We even buy toys for our children that promote violence. I'm not saying I'm against buying a little boy a G.I. Joe, but I do think children should be better educated about what they're playing with. Many of us played games like War when we were little. You "shot" your friend, they fell down, and died dramatically. Once the game was over, they got up and all was well. Children don't stop to think about the fact that in a real war, when people get shot and fall down, they don't get back up. Adults do the same thing though.
We hear the daily death toll each day on the news. We notice the number, but do we actually stop to think about the lives? Those soldiers are more than just a number, they are someone's son, daughter, wife, husband, brother, sister, friend. They are people. People risking their lives each day, while we sit at home and watch television. We are entertained by this violence on TV, while they are living it.
I'm not a propoent of war or violence. It honestly sickens me. People's lack of concern and sensitivity sickens me more though. I think we should all stop and think about the reality of what's going on around us. The world, unfortunately, is a violent place. This fact wont change unless we all wake up and actually start caring about one another.
So my challenge to you: Today, when you're bombarded by the next wave of violence, actually stop and think about what you're watching.
Masks. We all wear one. You can't deny it. Every morning we put on a mask, and then face the world. These masks help get us into character for the roles we play throughout the day. Every day we play a part, student, daughter, son, teacher, brother, sister, friend, co-worker, ect. We are taught early on how to act and react in different situations. You sit still in church; you answer questions politely in school; you never curse around your parents; always wear pants in public; laugh the most with your friends. When someone acts differently than the "norm" they get looked at funny, or even made fun of. Have you ever stopped to wonder though, are these people really acting strange, or are they just taking off their mask?
Why are so many of us afraid to let others see what's underneath? We all wear pretty similar masks, so why shouldn't we assume that what's underneath isn't bizzare or wrong? I believe if we all took off our masks, we would quickly discover how similar we all are. We're all flesh and blood. We each have a heart. A soul. A dream. We're human. So why must we wear these plastic masks in hopes of concealing what we really are? Conformity is a dangerous thing. It can bring out the worst in people.
I am guilty of weearing a mask each day. I don't act the same way when I'm at school as I do when I'm with my friends. I act completely different when I'm alone compared to how I act with my family. I'm not really proud of this fact though. I wish I could take my mask off once and for all, and be brave enough to bare myself to the world. I don't know if my mask will ever be completely off, but I'm starting to strip my mask of it's glitter, sequins, and feathers. I want to make as much of my true self visible, as I can. I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I hate the idea of being vulnerable.
We use our masks like security blankets. If no one can see the real us, no one can really hurt us. I'm not saying we should all throw caution to the wind, and start acting insane while at funerals and what not. I just think we should allow ourselves to be more vulnerable. Pluck a few feathers from your own mask. Allow yourself to be exposed, even if it's only for a moment. We shouldn't hide who are. We should embrace the beautiful flaws we all have lurking beneath our mask. There is beauty in being vulnerable, if you allow yourself to embrace this beauty, others will embrace it too.
So, I don't have a question today, I have a challenge: Let yourself be vulnerable at least once today. Share a secret with someone, don't wear a face full of makeup, don't feel insecure. Just be you.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.