Be Strong Wear a Mask

Photo by Sami Anas on Pexels.com

There are men and women who genuinely believe they are being weak if they wear a mask. Some believe – and they must not be attacked for their beliefs –  if they wore a mask, they would be cowards.

Now, I have a question of honorable design. If it is an act of weakness or cowardice to wear a mask, then why is it so hard to do for some folks? I place this question before you in the hopes you will consider what it is asking. Try it on, as it were. If wearing a mask was an act of weakness, it should be easy as pie because it wouldn’t require any strength at all. 

No one wearing a mask these days staggers home at the end of the day, barely able to place one foot in front of the other, utterly exhausted from wearing a mask.

I believe the question unveils a myth we’ve been inundated with for years. Not showing emotion is an act of strength, and, in many cases, protecting yourself is considered an act of weakness. Bring it on, someone says, chin jutting out making it an easier target for a fist.

I don’t think there is a human act much stronger than giving birth to a child. But I dare any man to get so close to a woman in the middle of labor that you’re within arm’s reach, so you can ask, “Hi there. Do you feel strong right now?” Two things will then happen. First, she’s going to say no. Second, you will leave the experience a full-fledged opera soprano.

Acts of strength are not pleasant experiences because they are acts of strength. When I see a weightlifter, male or female, battling to press a ton of poundage straight up over their heads, I gotta tell you, they don’t look like they’re having fun to me. They’re not. They are using a lot of physical strength. Physical strength, emotional strength, spiritual strength. All forms of strength have one thing in common. The experience of any of them is never easy or pleasant.

When one or all are required to get you through a strength-demanding experience, this includes trauma, none of the experiences will be easy. That’s why they require strength.

Wear a mask. Please. You deserve to protect your life like every single one of us. Wear a mask. Be strong.

The power of kindness

I am not beholden to that influential piece of propaganda that says kindness is weakness. Here’s one example of how wrong that propaganda is. The act of responding to anger and rage by walking away is an act of kindness because the person walking away, disengaging, if you will, is choosing not to inflame the moment any more than it already is. Yet the act of walking away is often considered weak. Rubbish. If it is an act of weakness to be kind, to walk away, then why is it so hard for so many to do exactly that?

If walking away was weakness doing it should be breeze, and it ain’t. As a human rights advocate, I’ve walked away, figuratively and literally, from some nasty, cruel and very often dishonest people, when a part of me fancied the idea of dribbling a few of them around the room and out the door.

 
There is a reasonable question to be asked. How is it, exactly, that walking away is, in fact, an act of kindness? If we equate the world we live in to the body and mind we live in, would it not be fair to say I am treating my body and mind with greater kindness by sparing both surges in stress and anxiety and anger? Are we not being kind to the world we live in when we choose not to add conflict? I certainly think so.

 
Kindness is just about as close to sacred as a human trait be, in large part  because you can’t have kindness without respect. Nearly every wound one human inflicts on another requires the absence of respect.  In fact, the depth of the wound one person inflicts on another, can often be measured by the degree to which the respect for the person is missing.

STRENGTH & THE ART OF ACCEPTANCE

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The true measure of a man’s strength is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”



Dr. King has been a hero of mine for as long as I’ve had memory, and I have tried to follow his example to the best of my ability. Have I always succeeded? Not even close. But, I am doing my best.


Life happens to us whether we like it or not. We are naive, foolish, arrogant or a combination of all three to believe any differently. Given that I am presently in a struggle to avoid homelessness, now is the time for me to help others. Perhaps the most effective way I can do that is to talk about some of the (forgive the overused word) strategies I use.


I believe we have a relationship with everything in life. Therefore, like a relationship between two people, these relationships can be healthy or unhealthy. Remember too that healthy does not mean free of pain, fear or anxiety. It means, I believe, that honesty in our hearts must be present.


In order for that kind of honesty to be front and center, we must begin by what I believe is the most important step of all. Acceptance. We must accept the reality we are in, the challenge we face. We must accept our experience of the reality in which we find ourselves. However, acceptance does not mean we are giving in. Let me repeat; acceptance does not mean giving in.



The acceptance equation goes like this; you have to accept it in order to manage it and you have to manage it in order to be free of it, in order to develop a healthy relationship with whatever the challenge or problem might be.


If you don’t practice the art of acceptance and avoid it, whatever is getting in your way of your right to be who you are safely in the world around you is likely to control you and, in Shakespearean parlance, Kick your ass for the rest of your life.


Acceptance takes courage, strength. Not the Hollywood definition of strength, or the bullshit strength myths believed by many in my country and I suspect other countries too. Myths like strength means don’t cry; strength means don’t admit you’re afraid; strength means don’t ask for help; strength means don’t admit you can’t do something by yourself. All not true. After all, if it is act of weakness for you to cry, then why is it so hard to do? If it is an act of weakness to admit you’re afraid, then why is it so hard to do?


More often than not, real strength is not a pleasant experience. But the results of giving yourself permission to believe and discover the wealth of real strength within you will bring remarkable and wonderful change and growth to your life. If you allow yourself to use your real strength to enact the art of acceptance you will get to be you in life, and that is a glorious thing. You deserve the experience. We all do.


The strength needed to practice the art of acceptance means allowing yourself to go through the emotional experience. Go ahead and feel the fear, the sadness, the confusion, the anxiety…like most things in life they run their course. And once they have and you come out the other side you realize that you did it, you made it. You are, in a very real way, free. Free to be who you are.


It doesn’t get much better than that.

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