“Hide in plain sight.” ~ Second tenant of the Assassin’s Creed.
It’s been said that the best place to hide something is in plain sight. It sounds so counter-intuitive, yet it happens all the time.
I’m sure we’ve all had experiences of losing something, only to find that it was right under our noses the entire time. People who wear glasses have this problem all the time. They can’t find their glasses, so they search the entire house, only to realize afterward that they were sitting on top of their head the entire time.
So why does this happen?
As near as I can figure, some part of our ego decides that we are too intelligent to lose something and that the object in question must be in some place that is less obvious – some place that only a crafty sort would think to search. The reality is often that we simply had a momentary lapse in judgment, and we feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit our fallibility. Some people prey on this arrogance and hide a great many things before our eyes. The only reason we don’t see them is because we’re too afraid to admit that we might not have all the answers. That our senses are flawed and imperfect.
The modern military employs camouflage, allowing them to effectively position themselves right next to an enemy without being detected. But the Assassins don’t use paint and shrubbery. Instead, they use a more illusive and universal form of concealment.
Green paint may be good when you’re out in the woods. But when you have to get up close to people on the street, in buildings, or out in the open, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. So instead, you must learn how to disguise your persona, from the way you dress to the way you speak. In the TV series Burn Notice, the main characters do this all the time, playing roles to get close to targets that would otherwise be out of reach. It’s not always complicated, either. Sometimes, the simplest of ruses can yield the biggest results.
“You know how to disappear. We can teach you to become truly invisible.” ~ Raz Al-Ghul.
Not everyone is a spy or an assassin, of course, but that doesn’t mean the same techniques can’t be employed for other more mundane situations.
I can remember, as a child, going to the mall and feeling overwhelmed by the number of people that would walk by. I would pretend that I was a fish and try to swim through the crowds as smoothly and stealthily as I could. With this shift in attitude, I found that I could maneuver quite well through the mall with little to no attention being drawn to me at all. On more than one occasion, I had managed to separate myself from my parents in this way and we had a hard time finding one another, even when actively searching.
In more recent times, I’ve been able to pop up behind someone without them realizing I’m there. Often, I don’t intend to do this, either; it just sort of happens and the reaction I get is priceless. I always joke about it afterward with the person, saying that it’s a good thing I’m not an assassin or they’d be dead.
I’d like to think that people have the capacity to be quite reasonable and understanding and that, if they knew better, they’d do better.
As children, we are pure, untainted, trustworthy, loving, ambitious, and willing to learn if the right person taught us. The only reason we become anything less than that is because information is withheld from us, power is withheld from us, love is withheld from us. In some way, we are lied to and the truth is kept locked away from our view. So the idea that “a person is smart, people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals” could be overturned in a generation with the right teachers, the right leaders in place.
Because people are inherently good and trustworthy and loving and reasonable, I think a lot more could be gained from greater openness and transparency. It is only ignorance and arrogance and lust of control that causes the teacher to withhold information from the student. If the teacher did their job properly, the student would become wiser than them. That’s the definition of progress.
“No nation hiding behind closed doors is free, for it is imprisoned by its own fear.” ~ Bill Clinton.
Our governments are comprised of people who wield power over us on our behalf. As such, we place great trust in them not to abuse that power or use it to harm us. Government ought to work for its people, not the other way around.
Sadly, the reality is quite the opposite.
Much of that power over us comes from the withholding of information. We are told that it is in our best interests that we not know what the government is doing to us and why. We gave them the power to work for us. Only Frankenstein monsters have power over their creators.
Our leaders withhold information out of fear of loss of power and thereby risk to their political and administrative survival. True servants reveal information when requested by their masters. Towards that end, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was created, to serve as a balance of power. Yet even such inquiries have been overridden under the guise of “National Security.”
“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.” ~ John F. Kennedy.
There are certain things that ought to be kept secret and never revealed. One’s bank account numbers, one’s personal computer passwords, the launch codes to nuclear weapons, etc. Things that would cause massive damage if made known. However, a great deal of that which is guarded ought not be kept secret, but should instead be brought to light. The ingredients in mass-produced foods, the test results of pharmaceutical companies, the financial backgrounds of our public officials, the secret government files on 9-11, and so forth.
If we, the public, can be asked to submit to a pat-down and x-ray scan at the airport, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those in positions of great power over us have a proportional level of transparency. Wouldn’t that be in the interests of public, national security?
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” ~ V for Vendetta.
In the animal kingdom, the scariest creatures are often the most afraid. Rattlesnakes make noise with their tails because they are afraid of being eaten, so they create this persona of being really viscious. Many animals make themselves look larger than they really are, or have designs of the eyes of large predators on their bodies. But all this is an illusion. It is out of fear that they create such personas. And yet, it allows them to weild great power over their environment and hide in plain sight.
Our governments are no different. They use such ruses to hide in plain sight, so why not learn to do the same and take that power back for ourselves?
Our truest political leaders are the ones who are open and honest with us, remembering that they serve the people, not control them. Those that have nothing to hide, who welcome inquiries and investigations into anything that we might feel threatened by or insecure about.
A clear and clean sheet of glass often goes overlooked. We tend to focus more on what’s just beyond the glass than the glass itself.
By far, the most effective way to hide in plain sight is to not have anything to hide in the first place. To be a pane of glass unmarred by blotches on your soul. Steel your heart and mind against human weakness and become a better person – a wiser, more compassionate, and more powerful person. Work to serve your fellow man and become more transparent yourself and the world around you will follow suit. Hide in plain sight.