Most of us are aware of the chance that sometimes we're blind to what's going on. A man is having an affair and the wife is astounded to find out. Thinking about it later, she sees all the clues she dismissed.
Some people are deliberately blind. Others suffer cognitive dissonance. More are not blind but lie about what they know and the truth. They like to let others think they're blind. It's a convenience they've adopted, sometimes lying even to themselves.
Writers know this can happen. We've developed methodologies to cope with it. Read the completed ms backward or aloud, let it sit in cold storage for a few weeks so it becomes fresh and new again. That will help open your eyes.
I've experienced it as a writer and a person. When my son was dying, I fought to not accept that. Not unusual, everyone knows about the stages of coping. Looking back, I see how obsessed and preoccupied I became about his health and condition and the many things I did to keep him alive right until he died.
Except it wasn't a son. It was a cat.
For many people, that changes the dynamics. A cat is much different than a human and a son is much different than a pet. By their reasoning, there should be degrees of caring with attendant levels of grief.
We see it happening in politics. Pundits against Obama bombing Syria as non-viable want him to attack Libya to retaliate for Benghazi. Congressional members who routinely voted to raise the American government's debt ceiling suddenly saw it as a problem, even though they authorized the expenditures that caused the debt. Republicans refuse to believe the economy is doing better under Obama than it did under Bush. Thinking Obama is the worst President ever, they assign blame to him for events that happened under Bush, from Katrina to the stimulus package to Wall Street greed and corruption and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they praise Bush for Navy SEALs killing OBL during Obama's term.
Meanwhile, Democrats and progressives who voted for Obama turn away from his activities that are counter to their ideals, insisting that he's still better than anything else being offered, which was the same reaction Republicans offered under Bush, ignoring everything he did while damning Obama for the same issues. After promising more transparency, the Obama administration has become amazingly secretive. Promising to end our involvement in wars, he pursues secret killing through drones. It is fun in a sad way to listen to the logic being tortured, whether they're talking about torture, foreign affairs, war or the economy. For fun, think about the blindness as it applies to the food stamp and wealthy tax cut debates or consider Chuck Todd, the journalist who insists his role is to be a mouthpiece, regurgitating what's said without vetting the truth.
Many adopt and accept the blindness by justifying it as, "That's different." For example, I have friends and family members who were on food stamps and assistance programs thirty years ago. Now they're eager to have those programs cut, accepting the idea that those people on welfare programs and the public dole are scamming the system and we're enabling an entitlement society. Their situation, however, was different. Besides, they managed to get off those programs after a few years, proving that people can do it. But when asked how many of the people now on the program are in the same situation they were thirty years ago, they have no idea. Yet they insist it's different. Sorry, I think it's blindness.
It comes up in professions and race relations. While all are aware of Trayvon Martin's death at George Zimmerman's hands, how many know of Jonathan Ferrell's death? After escaping an early morning traffic accident, he went to a nearby house, knocked on the door and called for help. The woman inside called the police for help. Sort of interesting that she claimed someone was trying to break into her house because they knocked on the door repeatedly. The police came and shot the unarmed man, claiming they aggressively charged him. Yes, Jonathan is black as night in his picture but everyone insists that had nothing to do with anything that happened, just as his race had nothing to do with what happened to Oscar Grant at Fruitvale Station in California.
The problem is education, we hear. Children aren't being educated so they're less capable as adults. That's why jobs are moving out of the United States, they explain, as they demand cuts to education programs and systems. In Texas, textbooks are changed to subvert history and instructions are given that students are not to be taught to think critically. They don't want any history or faith challenged.
We see it in the abortion debate. No woman should be allowed to have an abortion, we hear it ordained. Besides, some claim, most women who are raped are asking for it anyway and a woman who is raped can't get pregnant, their body won't allow it. Life is too sacred for abortion, they tell us, until the child is born, at which time assistance is cut so those children don't starting thinking they're entitled. Then, if the child grows up and murders someone, they might be executed, to prove how sacred we hold life.
So on we go, blindly on our way. As struggling writers, many of us might well be blind to having any ability, to ever being published or achieving success as a writer. See, sometimes the blindness is needed to help us overcome our sense of hopelessness and helplessness and keep us getting up and dressing each morning and doing all the things that constitute life and keep trying. Sometimes the blindness is the only thing that stays insanity.
But sometimes the blindness is what makes us insane.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com