Masked Humility

Originally posted:
By Mr. Jack
The mask does not make you, you make the mask.
Sometimes in our little community of costumed crazies we sometimes come to think that we deserve more attention and respect than we actually deserve. Let us be very clear: you are a person who is dressing up in homage to fictional cartoon superheroes who goes out and attempts the delusional, yes delusional, fantasy of helping and fixing the world’s problem dressed as such. This is what we do. Nothing more, nothing less. Some of us do it better than others, some of us worse. Some of us actually were born to do it, while some are born to destroy what others have created. In the end, however, we all do this same one thing.
Sometimes, however, caught up in our great delusional fantasy we become arrogant, and desire more value of our person than is worth others. And the issue here is desire. Desire poisons that which you try to purify. Have any of it in your life, and it seeps into the vessels of your actions and ruins them.
For those of us with “secret identities” this desire is actually a great temptress, because while great things can be done by anonymous people in masks no one will actually care that you did it. Secrecy is a great tool in our trade, and can be employed and exploited. It helps us to be confident, keeps us out of many troubles, separates a life we wish others to not be involved with. But with secrecy we may also desire the possibility of power. Since no one knows you, you can act as you wish, do as you please, and belittle whomever you desire in your great quest for the greater good.
This is wrong. Again, the whole desire thing eventually ends up corrupting every aspect of your intentions until none are left. But there are times when we are so tempted to reveal, so questioned by everyone around you for your worth and responsibility that you may want to just drop the facade and admit what you do.
The offer is tempting, and the dramatic reveal of it all can be quite exhilarating. It is one of the greatest “up yours.” Someone gets into a fight with you about your lack exhibiting anything beyond normal functions, and you have that ace up your sleeve that you know will garner everyone’s awe and admiration.
But it is not worth it. If you have chosen to keep your identity secret it is probably for a very good reason, and things done in the moment with such brashness never turn out well. Besides, if you really need your work as a great big Real Life Super Hero to speak for your entire character, then you obviously have a long way to go to fulfilling yourself as a person. Deluded we may be, but help is what we do. And the absolute first person you must always seek to help is yourself. Not at anyone’s expense, not for petty desires, but because you want and know you can achieve that “something more” you may dream of.
If you are only noble and great while in the mask of anonymity then you are a fraud, plain and simple. The point of a secret identity should be to experiment and push yourself to new levels. Take the opportunity of being anonymous to really try and be kind. After all, you are not you. You have a blank slate when as an anonymous pseudonym with a mask and spandex. Take the chance to explore what you could be a little, and then take those things that your learn and try putting them in every facet of your life.
Getting back to the humility we all should carry, I would like to put forth a list of tips and things that all RLSH should follow when out working in order to help them stay within the reality of our fantasy, and to keep ourselves humble and others accepting of our cause.
Mr. Jack’s Masked Manners
-Always address police officers as “Sir” or “Ma’am.” Respect their authority! Show your fellow helpers (including firemen, doctors, technicians, etc.) your sense of respect for their jobs and you will get respect for yours most often. It is not a one hundred percent thing though, but it does help always in the long run.
-Greet people on the street. When out on patrol, say hi to everyone you meet. Make eye contact, smile, and tell them hello or good day. The power of such a simple gesture like a smile or a wave is one that can change worlds. If people see such a friendly figure dressed up, they begin to question their own masks that they wear. Win over your public not for personal desire for fame or the like, but because it will help you get your message across better and be able to help people and open new doors to love.
-Always maintain composure. A lot of things happen when you are out in full gear, and most of them revolve around people trying to put you down or try and break your focus and composure. Part of being on your guard revolves around not allowing things to get under your skin. When I was with Silver Sentinel, Zetaman, Dark Guardian, Meow, Hunter and Tothian in New York one of the biggest things I admired about all of them was how great they were at just letting things roll off their armor. Silver Sentinel is a great example, as he often plays into what people say. Remember “If you are going to tell someone the truth, you’d better make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you.
-The customer is always right. In all honesty of you are doing your job right then you are basically the equivalent of a service employee, and as such, you must cater to the customer. I cannot specifically give an example for this because there are so many. If someone wants something, you have to do your best of fulfill it because that is the standard which needs to be held. By all means do what is right, but make it seem like it was the customer’s idea. Charisma helps.
-Right is right only when it is nice. Yes people need wake up calls. Yes, people need help to get off the street and be warned about the dangers that fill their life. But think about this for a moment: if you had some guy off the street come up to you and start lecturing you on errors of your way and the virtues of living right would you really instinctively give him your time and listen? Now add in that that guy is dressed in spandex and a cape and calls himself Justice Avenger Supreme. You now see the absurdity of it. Yes, our mandate is to help, but for gods’ sakes do not be belligerent and in people’s faces unless there is no other way. Rude and noisy should always be a last resort to the virtues of gentle, kind care.
-Hold yourself to the standards you seek of others. If you have unrealistic expectations then you are doomed to fail. In other words, if you think that you can go out and stop crime when you are publicly intoxicated or driving like a maniac or carrying lethal weapons without a permit then you are now the problem others have to help. Lead by example and you will most likely not be questioned for your worth of actions.
-Finally, and this is a small but big thing, look in a mirror when you are dressed up. Yes, it is nice to admire how awesome you look, but this is not my intention for this specific manner. Look in the mirror to see what others will see of you. If you cannot look in the mirror and trust the image you see then neither can anyone else. Appearance is one of the most paramount aspects we should worry about in our community, not again for personal gain, but to be symbols. We wear what we wear to draw attention, to inspire, to help. If you cannot trust who you see in the mirror, change it in some way to make it so you can.
Awareness Challenge 2: Think Before You Act
I mean this for every part of your life. Before you take an action, just take a nanosecond and think about what you mean by it, what it will actually do, and how it will be perceived. This sort of thought checking is difficult to maintain for a long time, but with practice it can become second nature. By just slowing down your thought process to “proofread” your action before it happens, you can determine a better course of action for it, which may indeed be the one you had already set. But never underestimate the power of such thought. It may be the difference between you making peace between two people or throwing the first punch. The choice, as always, is yours.