Neighbors, Enemies, Masks

Masks for sale at Chichen Itzá

Masks for sale at Chichen Itzá

There is a festival in January in Chiapas state where masks depicting Spanish conquerors are worn by the locals. These masks feature blue-eyed faces with dark beards. For me, the concept prompts that famous question who is my neighbor? (v29). This morning I bumped against the flip side of that question, in the form of a hard saying: Love your enemies (v43). My encounter appears in a powerful novel I’m reading, titled LIAR’S GOSPEL (my review of May 9 is titled FLAWED, BUT CENTRAL). Here’s the dialog which arrested me from reading further, and brought me to making this blog entry – (from p.98):

[He] imagined what would happen if these words would travel from mouth to mouth, from mind to mind, from one city to the next to the next if this simple message – love your enemy – were the accepted creed of all the world. He did not see how it could happen. ¶ “If one man were against it,” he said at last, “the whole thing would be broken. In a world of peace, a world of soft people with no knives, one man could destroy everything.”  ¶ “Then we cannot rest until every man has heard it. Think,” said Yehoshuah softly, “what shall we use up our lives for?  More war, like our fathers and their fathers, more of that? Or shall we use ourselves for better purpose? Is this not worth your life?” ¶ And Iehuda saw it, just for a moment. In this instant, the whole world was new to him.

†     In Yucatan the Maya say I am another you. Before we can grasp that, we need to remove the masks which we’ve allowed to conceal the face of the other.

Parachico mask with plastic false face addition

Parachico mask from Chiapas, with plastic false-face addition