One has often heard the term “bad actors” used to define many things, from actual bad actors in the thespian sense, the examples are on full display at your local CinemaPlex almost constantly and even more so on the endless channels of content that are disguised as “entertainment” from whatever cable provider, to the dictators and oppressors to the charlatans, the wolves in sheep clothing that pose as leaders that we bestow with almost limitless power. Interesting to understand that the origin of the word “actor” is “hypocrite”.
The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.
Almost grotesque by today’s standards, though the CGI images you can see at those same movie theaters today dwarfs these by comparison.
Why should we care? Because this concept of “behind the mask”, of presenting a false image, of promoting a hidden agenda is alive and well from almost every City Hall throughout our nation, and from the Chambers of our federal government.
We all of us wear masks. Some to hide our fears and emotions, some to deal with that which we would rather not, and some to subvert or pose an affront to that which we fear.
These masks can be to protect ourselves from discovery, the discovery of our self-doubt and our perceptions of our own worth, our fears of being exposed as weak in some manner. These are the things that keep psychiatrists employed and philosophers pursuing deeper truths.
How does this help one prepare, plan and practice for an actual emergency that shows up on their doorstep? One that perhaps comes on the winds and is predicted and expected or one that steps out of the shadows and is in your and your families face, immediately and very up close and personal? Does it all lead back to being able to immediately access someones motivations is our daily contacts? It does. And we do it all the time. From the salesperson approaching when we enter a store to the small group of armed individuals who approach our camp. Are they hunters merely drawn to the noise, the light of the fire, the aroma of food or is their motivation that AND something darker?
Just how does one make a life changing decision in the blink of an eye with so few clues? And is the person then judged smart or reactionary for their actions?
While we prepare for the what if’s of life how do we prepare for the unavoidable aftermath, the slow processing and reprocessing of the event, one we can only now learn from as opposed to redo.
There are as many opinions on this as their are options on how to prepare for every circumstance, which, in reality, is impossible. The singular path to accepting ones own actions is to look inward and be honest with yourself. Sounds easy but have you ever really tried it? Have you stood in front of a mirror and judged yourself on more than your appearance? On your phobias, we all have them, on your life experience as this, as much as anything, shapes who we really are. Do we judge others through these same filters?
The dishonest with themselves will say no. It is a human failing, and in reality, few of us are not doing so about some aspects of ourselves. So, with that understanding and self examination, supported with the fact that we have taken the time to truly judge ourselves we are doing the best we can in preparing to judge others. If you can honestly state that you have looked in the mirror, seen your true self and accepted your flaws and those events that have shaped you then you can understand how you will judge others.
In a world overrun with bad actors wearing false masks this is a responsibility every citizen needs to bring to the table when judging others. Judging them as they approach us, as they cross our paths, as they seek our approval (votes, endorsements, support), as we chose them above others based on our filters, our life experiences. As we find ourselves fast approaching yet another “election cycle” we need to apply the same logic and self examination as we would to that group of armed men approaching our camp. While the potential of danger may not appear as imminent, it is. We have the advantage of time but only if we take the time from our normal lives. If we prioritize, if we understand that these decisions, at every level are as important to the welfare of our selves and our loved ones as any other we make.
In the coming months the frenzy of information and misinformation will reach a crescendo and it will actually become almost deafening. Who to believe? Ads and counter ads at every turn, outrageous claims and “anonymous sources” as far as well, they can be made up. THIS is practice for us, as individuals, to try and filter through all the clues, to see beyond the fog of our everyday obligations and to step up and make a choice, choices actually, that we and all of our neighbors are going to have to live with for years to come. And it is practice for us, as while we have much more time and data to filter through then we will have at the campfire, we also have to consider that the possible impact of our decisions will not go away after an exchange of food and greetings or a violent encounter. These decisions have consequences. Choose wisely. Choose based on honest assessments of self and of others. Our Republic demands it.