Earlier today I was having my random thoughts and it crossed my mind how the criminals wear masks when they commit an act of crime. I came with the conclusion that those criminals wear masks because covering their faces gives them the power to be anonymous to any possible viewers of the crime. So I thought of reversing the process, if we gave a person that has no intention of misconduct a mask, would he or she become an offender? I started looking for an example and that led me to think of “Niqab” (a piece of cloth that covers the face) that is common among the Arab society.
Recently I have witnessed two incidents concerning women wearing the “Niqab”. The first incident was when a woman wearing the Niqab wanted to get on a bus with one functioning door, so she impatiently pushed against the other women who were trying to get off the bus without giving excuses, which led one of the women to yell at her and start a fight. The second incident was when a woman wearing the Niqab tried selling my friends and I, drugs. I have also read about many stories of women wearing the Niqab who engaged in prostitution, theft, faking identities and other things that may be considered by many people as immoral. I have even met many people who claimed that women in Niqab are the most corrupt. So I started asking questions, are those women under the Niqab initially born evil? Or humans are all born evil and that evil side is more likely to show if one covers his or her face?
I was not able to draw conclusions because I did not have sufficient tangible evidence to support any of the claims related to the questions above; however, my thoughts led me to a mythical artifact named “The Ring Of Gyges” that was mentioned by the philosopher Plato in his book “The Republic”. Briefly, Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king of Lydia; one day there was a great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place where Gyges was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he descended into the opening, where he saw a dead body of stature, as appeared to him, more than human, and having nothing on but a gold ring. So Gyges decided to take the ring. Later on, the shepherds met together and according to custom they might send their monthly report about the herds to the king. Gyges attended the assembly with the ring on his finger. As Gyges was playing around with his ring he turned the collet of the ring in his hand, instantly he became invisible to the company and they began to speak of him as if he were no longer present. He was astonished at this, and realized that turning the collet inwards made him invisible while turning it outwards made him visible again. Using the power of his ring, Gyges made himself chosen to be one of the messengers sent to the King. As soon as Gyges arrived, he seduced the queen, and with her help conspired against the king, murdered him and took the kingdom.
I am not here to question Gyges’ ethical standards; nonetheless, I see that the ring he has acquired gave him an advantage over the other people. In other words, the ring gave him power. I see that the power the ring gave him is somewhat similar to the power the Niqab gives. The one wearing the Niqab has an anonymous identity that gives a wider window of opportunity to commit sinful acts and get away with them. So Now you are probably wondering if I see that wearing the Niqab necessarily leads one to commit sinful acts? And the answer is: No, as I will illustrate further in the succeeding paragraph.
As I have reflected on the Niqab I will reflect on politicians. Many politicians start off clean and end up dirty. Is it because politicians are initially nasty people who fake being nice until they what they want? There is a possibility that this is true; yet, rationally speaking, this is not the case. Politicians have an advantage over the other people that is somewhat similar to that advantage given by the Ring Of Gyges or the Niqab, and that advantage is power.
Once one has power, one is a given a choice, a choice to either be just, fair and altruistic or to be self centered, unjust and corrupt. The decision to have more power is similar to the decision made by Gyges when he decided to keep the ring on or the decision made by a woman who decided to wear the Niqab. With greater power comes greater responsibility and once you have made the choice to have more power, you must realize the responsibility that comes with that power. I am not here to tell you that when you have power you should be nice to everyone. I am here to remind you of how the choices you make when using your advantages, can impact your life and the lives of other people.
“The Ring of Gyges.” The Ring of Gyges. Charles.D.Kay, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013.