We live today in a society that replaces things, stuff and what-nots at a rate that is higher than any other time in history. Each and every one of us walk about wearing face masks, many of which are made out of paper or paper-like materials that tear from time to time. All of us have experienced torn clothing, and almost every one of us who are honest with ourselves have threatened to “tear something up” in anger. Those of us that work with machinery on a regular basis realize and know that eventually something is going to become “torn up”. As to physical and mental composition, certain members of society refer to people who become inebriated, either unintentionally or purposefully, as “torn up”. After contemplation of the word for so long, I have come to the conclusion that a definition of the word “torn” in today’s society most definitely varies from those long lost Merriam Webster expositions on the word.
It is reasonable to assume that one may be tempted to ask why such contemplations on a simple four letter adjective could spark such an interest to delve into the concepts of such a negative word. Venturing to say that many readers will most definitely agree with me, I propose that the word “torn” most definitely describes the year that will forever be known as “the year of COVID-19”, “the year of racial injustice”, “the year of a presidential election”, “the year that changed America’s norm” and the list could go on in an infinite direction. The year 2020, for Americans of all ages, races, religions and genders, has most definitely been torn. Some experts in the field of sociology have even referred to this year as the beginning of the exposition of a great tear in the very fabric of America’s international and domestic character. This whole concept sobers the mind, for sure.
America, in general, has most definitely experienced a tear in its metaphorical paper or cloth face mask. Teaching in a public school, I see paper or cloth face masks every day, all day. The benefits of these masks are evident to some and not so much to others, but the fact that a paper or cloth face mask represents the most evident item of apparel in today’s society is unquestionable. I used to see signs in stores that read “no shirt, no shoes, no service”. It always seemed to me that wearing clothing that covered yourself was an understated yet reasonable requirement to enter an establishment; but in 2020, we have shifted focus to the face, or the covering thereof, rather. A face mask reveals one small morsel of information that other clothing doesn’t reveal so easily though. A torn face mask is immediately recognizable because it is the center of one’s attention when observing another human being. It reveals the most recognizable part of a person, his or her face. This year, it has become apparent that America has been wearing a face mask for some time, and it has now become torn. The true expressions and identities of this great country are exposed completely to us for the first time in quite a while. So one might ask, what does the tear in America’s face mask reveal?
The first revelation that surfaces when a face mask is torn on a person that doesn’t realize there is a breach in the garment is a fearful and veiled realization of vulnerability. It has been my observation that this emotion quickly changes to irritability and anger. I’m not sure why we as humans immediately turn to a destructive nature when anger arises, but America in general is very well known for doing just this. Acts of domestic aggression of all shapes, sizes and outcomes have taken place since the Boston Tea Party and continue until today. This aggression has proved helpful at times, and not so helpful at others. As a matter of fact, the manifestation of anger does bring about change, whether societal or personal, yet there are always costs.
This phenomenon has occurred throughout history all the way back to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. After the Israelites left Egypt, they immediately felt exposed due to the fact that the wilderness offered no food, water or shelter, except what was provided by Jehovah. The Egyptian army was sent to pursue and recapture them as well. The economy was diminished by astronomical means, and the citizens grew restless as their leader disappeared from time to time in order to talk to this “Jehovah” that the general population could not see directly or hear from audibly. After a time, they took their valuables, mainly anything made out of gold, and completely destroyed them in order to make an idol so they could worship their possessions rather than this unseen and unheard Jehovah. The result, however, was that they had an idol to worship while they alienated the source of their being in favor of a creation that is no longer able to be found regardless of how many times archaeological surveys have searched. The reaction to adversity of “tearing up” their valued gold and jewelry ended with a false deity that was destroyed by human hands. It simply ended in more loss.
The tear in the Israelite society has continued at intervals throughout all of history, but we as Americans must come to realize that being torn does not always have to be a negative experience. When machines, emotions and physical beings become torn, another wonderful revelation is made. I know that no one likes to find out that their vehicle has “torn up” or that their body and mind are less perfect than once hoped. The natural reaction to these statuses are once again, fear and trepidation. Fortunately in 2020, we are better equipped than the Israelites of ancient times to deal with these tears. We have a most delightful reference. In Mark 1:26 the Bible tells us of a man who was torn. I’m not sure how he was torn, or to what extent he was torn, but I do know that it must not have seemed to be a pleasant experience at the time. The result, however, was most desirable. He was freed of that which had oppressed him. He was able to let out that which came into his being even though it was uninvited, unwanted and unwelcome. He became free from what was oppressing him, but he had to allow Jesus Christ to open him up first.
In conclusion, being torn isn’t always a bad state of affairs. Being torn may present what appear to be obstacles. Let us use them as stepping stones or rungs on a ladder. Being torn may cost us way more than we intended to pay. Let us view this as investing in our future. Being torn may frustrate us and thwart our efforts to remain on our own schedule. Let us, as we would with any well-wrapped present, allow the wrapper to be torn off so we may receive the blessings waiting inside and run this race of life with patience, contentment and blessing.