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Ethics and Mask Connection Essay

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Updated: Dec 17th, 2021

The mask covers the full or part of the face to hide one’s identity. It is generally worn during festivals. But underlying this in real life are the expressions and mannerisms in our outward behavior that disguises and hides the true self. For instance the politeness can be a mask to hide a malicious nature or the rough outward show might well be a cover for a gentle heart and mind. Although theatre personalities are adept at putting on the mask of another in their acting, in reality we all are playing the same game.

Except for the newborn or at the time of death we have to mask our emotions to survive in society or be a part of it. The child has to mask distaste for school and be polite to the teachers. Married couples mask their bitterness so that family life continues. The employee masks intense dislike for the exploiting employer to keep the job. It is endless – the many masks that we have to put on to continue with life and living (Bonhoeffer 116).

Who does not wear the mask? The exceptions are there. It is either the lunatic who has not tuned in with societal norms and bindings or the thoroughly spoilt persons who are pampered by others. Even Nero had to pretend to be an artist and mask his grotesque nature. Then there are great sages who do not wear masks – they o are transparent inside and out – their minds and their tongues, their thoughts and expressions are the same.

Related to this is whether by masking our feelings we set up a friendship and thus forfeit our freedom. Does friendship mean loss of freedom? If freedom is taken to be a license to do whatever one wishes without caring for others then definitely that sort of freedom is lost in friendship. Friendship means caring and loving for another and seeing to the needs of the other. Friends have to tango together. If the rhythm of mutual caring is broken then friendship vanishes.

Wearing masks may sound hypocritical but it is not always so; sometimes sugar coated bitter capsules does the trick of curing illnesses. Thus to be ethical and be a part of society one has to wear a mask. Raw emotions lead us nowhere. It is only by controlling and masking them that man masters his feelings and this leads to constructive action (Malik 37).

This poses the question of ethical and moral behaviour. There is a subtle difference between these two concepts. Morals relate to the individual while ethics relate to the society. Ethics are about group rules of which the individual is a part. Thus there are many ethics relating to social behaviour, company, professions and even to family. Ethics can be termed duties. For instance medical ethics prevents doctors from indulging in euthanasia although the physician knows that it is to best interest to the patient to terminate his life. The moral code of a person may not change but ethical codes change. Sometimes it leads to inner conflict. A soldier has to obey – it is his ethical duty but should he when it comes to mass murder of civilians?

Individually we are wearing masks all the time – playing different roles during different parts of the day and stages of life. Can we unmask ourselves? It is difficult. Even while looking into the mirror we see what we want to see and mask our vision.

Works Cited

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Ethics. Vol. 6. London: Fortress Press, 2009.

Malik, Subhash C. Mind, man, and mask. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 2001.

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