As curriculum vitae tell of a person’s achievement, so does a face tell of a person’s character. The face is the most naked part of the human body, yet, if there is any body part that should be covered, it is the face, because the face tells a story, your story! Your face cannot hide you. It exposes your innermost secrets as much as, if not more than your heart, yet the heart is the most secret part of the human body.
The heart cannot be seen or touched even by the one carrying it. In the heart is good and evil thought formed and carried out by the hands, which are transported by the legs. The thought of the heart is so deep that it cannot always be revealed by the actions of human beings. But the analysis of the face can.
When a person is missing for instance, the first thing that an investigator wants described is the face…forehead …eye…nose…ears…shape of the mouth…, in order to locate the missing person. But a face, your face is plain, naked, and this is a fact.
When you look at a face, the first thing that catches your attention is the eye. The eye is not only the window through which you see all things, it is said to be “The window of the human soul.” Jesus called the eye “The light of the body,” and then added, “If the light is dark, how great is that darkness.” In ancient times, medical doctors looked in the eye to diagnose illnesses. African Traditional healers still practice this even with today’s technology. To diagnose a problem, a traditional African healer will pull down the lower eye lid in order to tell if one is suffering from a fever, kidney disease or a heart problem, and so many other diseases. In some cases, their diagnoses correlate with medical diagnoses.
Without speaking, the eye expresses deep love as well as profound hatred. It expresses disgust that even words cannot speak. The eye reveals inner emotion of the human heart. With her eye a wife warns her husband to desist from a flirtatious behavior, a father warns his son to resist a thuggish behavior, a mother warns her little child not to eat food, which the mother did not cook. One look, the eye can and do send a message, hence the phrase, “If looks could kill….”
The face is a character. The nose is the most projected part of the human face regardless of its shape, whether pointed or flat. The nose can attract or repel: the nostrils may be wide or narrow, yet to smell or the inability to smell does not depend on any of these factors. A repugnant smell may not be expressed by words, but your nose tells your inner feelings. It flares. Your mouth pouches. Your lower lip instinctively pushes your upper lip, which in turn pushes up to cover your nostrils to repel the smell, yet you have not spoken a word. The ear may be small or narrow, wide or big, yet the size does not determine how much one hears, but whatever one hears is expressed through the face.
Through the face comes an expression of “lightning and thunder, storms and rain, fog and sunshine.” The face tells when to draw near and when to stay away. It shows when a guest has overstayed his welcome: suddenly the expression of his host changes, yet the host has not spoken, but the guest knows it is time to go. Through the face come an expression of hope and fear, dreams and aspirations, pleasure and dread. The face tells it all.
Foreign culture appreciates facial expression, while African culture appreciates spoken words. In a troubled relationship, for instance, a man may tell his woman that he wants to keep the relationship, but whenever he sees her, he frowns. He is pensive and does not speak, he pouts. Foreign culture analyzes facial expressions. When you are speaking to an American for instance, he is studying your facial expression. The twitching of your mouth, the movement of the muscles in your cheek, the position of your lips, the spread and narrowness of your eye lids, the movement of your eye balls, the stability or instability of your ear movements, and whatever expressions you make are being used to assess your sincerity, genuineness or fakeness.
Children are taught in American schools to “Pay attention to expressions, and not just spoken words.” The face is a naked vessel through which Almighty God communicates the inner thoughts of human beings to anyone who will listen. A mother who pays attention to her child’s face will instantly know when something is wrong with that child. A wife knows when her husband engages in immoral activity. A teacher immediately knows when her student is going astray.
Paying attention to facial expressions may stop an act before it becomes an action. But, of course, people, especially us Africans, take things for granted. Take no facial expression for granted. If a person looks angry, he is VERY angry.
Dr. Turtoe-Sanders is an Author. She lives in the United States of America.
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