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Mask or No Mask

"Wear a mask." — Dr. Anthony Fauci, CNN interview, May 21.

(The above quote is the most searched quote in 2020 involving the word mask.)

When ever I hear anything about a mask I am reminded of a story from an Elder Iakovos from Simonopetra Monastery on the Holy Mountain Athos which I have been Blessed to make 7 pilgrimages to. The story he told was about his Elder Aimilianos who one day approached him and asked "Do you know why God placed your eyes on the front of your face?" He responded by saying Geronda(Elder) you tell me. To which Elder Aimilianos said, "So you can see what the other person needs and not what you need." That's what a personal relationship means, seeing each other and seeing what each needs and then to help each other. The Greek word for person is πρόσωπο (próso̱po) which is also the Greek word for face. There is such a deep meaning to this double usage because in truth to be a person is to see others and for them to see you, face to face, as it is. Furthermore, and why I bring this story up at this time is because the Greek word for mask is προσωπείο (proso̱peío) which is derived also from the root word for person/face and hence the idea behind this is, "Are you showing your real face or are you putting on a mask?" or in other words, "Is this your true self or are you pretending to be something you are not?" For, to be a true person in the deepest and fullest sense of the word we must be willing to stop looking only at ourselves and look at others and their needs. And as the others we must be willing to show our true face and not some mask, to be honest, vulnerable as this may make us, so that those with whom we have a personal relationship with may be able to truly help us. And lastly, not to make this blog a Greek language lesson, (although 45% of English comes from Greek), but I will like to point out that the Greek word for selfish, self-seeking is ιδιοτελής (idiotelí̱s) which any English speaking person can quickly recognize within it, the root word IDIOT.

One of the by-products of the internet and social media era in which we now live is the wide range of opinions passed off as truth. Think about it, we want to know about something, we type some key words into our search engine and voila we have the answer. But, really, is it that simple? Have we ever wondered what the source of these answers are or what directs the response that we receive to the words we have typed? If you truly look into this process you will find yourself in a world of not only finding answers or completing tasks through algorithms but also the fact that every search engines job of staying alive is to sell advertisements. More than that the algorithms themselves are built on classifying, canonical queries, semantic interpretations, neutral matching, situational similarities, seed sets, and past interactions. In my own very layman terms, they are trying to tell you what they think you want to hear and sell you something on top of that. Basically, the world's most diverse salesmen. Now, with all that being said, we are still human beings, and our smart phones, laptops and computers are still machines as far as I know but this is probably going to be very debatable in the near future. Anyhow, we should be able to be smarter and more adaptable than the tools we use through objective thinking and a determination to not be emotionally provoked. Lack of these qualities makes us as humans unreasonable. An unreasonable human can become a danger to themselves and to others when they grow unruly. I will venture also to deduce that a human that is a danger to others is also lacking the aforementioned qualities to be a person in the fullest sense.

In conclusion, if you are looking for my personal opinion on whether I believe that we should all be wearing actual masks or not in public places due to the current pandemic, I am only going to say must search yourself to determine what kind of person you want to be. Make your personal relationships with other actual human beings and not just machines that are used for exploiting our emotions to sell products. Let your first search engine be your own heart and soul by thinking of others and their needs not just your own. And I believe that when we are able to do this we will become more of a person in the truest sense of the word.

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