Coming out of hiding

Our country has been wearing denial like camo fatigues. How can we shed our disguises?

Hiding is, in most cases, a practice of protection, for ill or good.

A rule breaker or misbehaver can hide to avoid detection, capture, punishment. A shy person can hide to protect herself from unwanted scrutiny. A tired person can hide for rest and restoration.

A zebra can disappear in the grasses, a tiger in the underbrush. One fleeing, one stalking, both surviving.

Camouflage is often used for hiding our deadly penchant for violence, whether as sport hunters or to perpetuate war. What does it mean when a person wears camo-streaked clothing in public? Surely not camouflage, but a statement of support for the rights of the violent - an odd version of hiding in plain sight.

Some hide in plain sight by taking on the coloration of the norm. Their truer selves are not shared or revealed, and what is considered “normal” is worn like a cloak of invisibility to cover the interior self.

Some can never hide in plain sight by virtue of skin color or gender identity that makes the person indelibly subject to social prejudices and structures, to political and economic constraints. The stress of never being able to hide is perhaps even worse than the strain of feeling a need to hide.

* * *

Our country has been wearing denial like camo fatigues, covering our grieving at atrocities, our fears at being found out for our hypocrisy, our embarrassment at not even knowing our nation's true story, our despair of finding the strength and camaraderie to overcome injustice.

We are at war with ourselves, our own professed ideals that collide with our less-lofty desires for more - and more - however gotten. The uniform is appealing even to those being exploited by the current setup; at least they have a group to march with, a formation to join.

How can we step into the clearing without fear?

How can we shed our disguises without feeling we are losing ourselves? What is the incentive to come out of hiding?

It is that we might just find ourselves, striped and graceful, in the full sun?

Maybe we can leave the exhaustion of hiding and trade it for a full breath in the light of a new way.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates