See that guy crouching in the tall grass, waiting for some low flying ducks or doves to come into range? Of course you can’t! He’s fully camouflaged. Unfortunately for him, the game birds saw him long before he could see them and they’re heading the other way!
Since the beginning of civilization, men and women have tried to exploit the benefit of blending-in to their surroundings. Camouflage can take many forms. It can be physical, where the stealthy hunter paints his face and chooses clothing that mimics his surroundings in order to fool his prey into thinking that all is well just up ahead. It can also be emotional, intellectual and even spiritual.
In many ways, camouflage is the opposite of truth
Insightful writer, art historian and managing editor of Harper’s Magazine from the 1940s to the 1960s, Russell Lynes has the definitive quote on the subject of camouflage. “Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal.”
Hiding in the tall grass that surrounds personal relationships, business dealings, religious beliefs and almost every other aspect of the human condition offers the false confidence that comes from thinking that the element of surprise will win the day. Unfortunately, it seldom does.
Hunters spend small fortunes in getting the latest camo clothing, hats, shoes, scent repellant and other concealment which are guaranteed to hide them from the unsuspecting game. However, in most cases, nature has supplied wild animals and birds with senses of smell, hearing and sight that make the camo-attired nimrod stand out like a neon sign on the Vegas strip.
Inept or dishonest business people who attempt to hide behind the chauffeur-driven cars, expensive gadgets and Brooks Brothers and Hermes camo attire must eventually come out from behind the tree and reveal their true selves. When this occurs, their “secrets are as surely revealed by what they want to seem to be” and it’s not pretty.
Those who are frightened of real intimacy or happen to be pathological liars in relationships can try to hide behind the camouflage of deceit, but eventually the truth will be revealed. When this happens and after the tears are shed, there’s not much to do but shrug shoulders and move on.
The fact is we all use camouflage every day in an effort to present a more positive side to our self-doubts. Psychological studies have shown that humans and many animals mimic the gestures, facial expressions, appearance and language of those with whom they are interacting and seeking to impress. Watch a skilled salesperson at work sometime and this phenomenon will be painfully evident.
The reason for all of this duplicity is obvious. We all have something to hide.
Photo by Christopher Young 2009