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Faces express more than words

In the Community, Making a Difference

“Vanity keeps persons in favor of themselves who are not in favor with another.” — William Shakespeare.

The face, from the past to the present, has played a role in shaping our lives. From literature we understand a face can express beauty or deception, as in “was this the face that launched a thousand ships?” — Christopher Marlowe, “Doctor Faustus,” and as in “Cassius has that lean and hungry look” — William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar.” In the present, the freedom of the individual versus protection of public health and the prevention of crime, is a debate focused on the face.

“The face is like an evolving name tag. You mix and match like Mr. Potato Head.” — Michael Sheehan, University of California, Berkeley.

Extending from ear to ear, brow to chin, encompassing eyes, mouth, and nose, the face gets more personal attention than other parts of the body. With an exchange of glances, it communicates emotion and thought in varied expression, such as scowl, scorn, and smile. People are recognized by their face, each with features that are uniquely coordinated and can be expressed by mathematical formula. The face is vulnerable to physical trauma, environmental and biological hazards, it should be protected.

“I love the fact that every time I had my ride it could be my last.” — Lonnie West, Professional Bull Rider.

Riders would cowboy up when sliding on to the back of a 2,000-pound bull, doing the eight seconds as free as the open range used to be the norm. In October 1995, Tuff Hedeman riding a bull named Bodacious suffered injury to his face that required six titanium plates to reconstruct in a 13-hour operation. The choice of risk over the use of protective equipment is up to the rider, making bull riding a clear expression of personal freedom. The reality being the breeding of bulls to enhance aggression has made it more dangerous, increasing serious injury and deaths, threatening the sport. By opting for helmets with face guards and safety vests, bull riders protect themselves and their sport.

The face on the milk carton is no more, through artificial intelligence and digital imaging remarkable things can be done — faces of the past can be recreated, faces of the future projected, and faces of the present identified. In Orwellian fashion, facial recognition software can build a database of images that can be compared, with social media being a prime source. Primarily used for law enforcement, federal, state, and local agencies share information — it is estimated that half the adult population of the U.S. are part of a virtual lineup.

The familiar sign posted by businesses to read, “no shoes, no shirt, no service,” now includes, “no facemask.” A survey by the Pew Research Center indicates that one-third won’t comply. Some see it as a sign of government excess — if the intent is to interfere, it doesn’t need a mask. A run to the grocery store isn’t like riding a bucking bull; your freedom is hardly compromised by wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.

“All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims and it is up to us so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilence.” — Albert Camus, “The Plague.”

Tom Brindley can be reached at bindletom@hotmail.com. Read him here the first and fifth Thursday of each month.

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