Herd About It?
by Ana Grarian
In “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” Annie Dillard cites “Space and Sight” by Marius von Senden. When safe cataract surgery was developed groups of doctors traveled the country performing the operation and giving people the gift of sight for the first time in their lives.
These doctors often kept notes on their patients’ experience of distance and depth both before and after the surgery. These people had to learn about sight as we did as infants and have long since forgotten. Infants cannot communicate their discoveries to us so we are left to guess what they are “seeing”.
Patients had a difficult time with the perception of depth and distance. It was difficult for them to understand that the world took up space beyond their visual world. The idea that some thing could be behind another object was novel. Many described what they saw as “patches of color”. They eventually learned that those patches of color were objects that they needed to walk between so as not to hit a solid object. Often they would resort to closing their eyes and maneuvering as if they were still blind when the visual became too confusing.
I think of a baby learning about it’s hands. They often hit themselves in the face multiple times, then cry in outrage at the self-inflicted pain. I always thought that they were learning that the hand they saw was their own. It seems they also could be learning how far away that visible hand is.
The child I babysit is learning about Mom being away in stages. First he realized that when he saw me it meant Mom was going away. Then he learned that that the kitchen is where she disapeared. Now he knows that she will come back from there too. Seeing has meaning.
Is it possible that some people cannot grasp the concept that we must keep our planet healthy because they lack a type of depth perception? They cannot see ahead to where their actions lead. They cannot see that their loved ones will be in that distant world. Perhaps their depth perception is so low that they cannot feel compassion or empathy.
They are not blind but still they cannot see?
A friend who’s not with us anymore once worked with ex-cons, counseling them on finding jobs and reintegrating back into society after prison. The two things most criminals have, at least the ones who end up in jail, is a severe problem with impulse control and an inability to realistically anticipate the likely outcomes of their actions — in other words, they are emotionally immature.
It seems, to a lesser degree — although some of them are definitely white-collar criminals — that our corporate Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and their ilk are afflicted with these same two problems. They can’t control their impulse to make more money, and they have a hard time, apparently, gauging the effects of their actions.
Upton Sinclair also put it simply and concisely, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (And that would account for some women, as well.)
As long as corporations give politicians money, and pay people to lie for them, it will be nearly impossible to change the disastrous course we’re on. But I’m slightly optimistic as the general public seems to be gradually waking up.
I would agree that men and women often turn a blind eye to what they are doing especially if it determines their income. I know I struggled on with a job I hated to get the pension and keep the insurance. When we were new to the area my mother and I both commented about how chickens were kept but accepted it somehow as “the way things were done” because it was a neighbor and friend and my husbands employer. Politicians I am sure are caught up in the money, perks and power. And right now it is the lobbyists who are affording them the money and perks more than the voters. The higher up the ladder they go the less responsive they have to be (or within this money structure can be) to their constituents.
Perhaps with new means of sharing information such as Tweeting, FB, email and blogging, we can overcome the media disregard for real issues.
Lack of depth of perception…
Probably one of the best examples of this is how people act after an accident. Even if you “know” you’re in the right, yelling and accusing people solves nothing. Been a while, but in the past 20 years I’ve had to tell other drivers, “We will wait until the police get here and then we can tell them our stories,” because they won’t act rationally and civil. That’s not just accidents Ive been in. I’ve been a witness to and had both parties yelling at each and me, ordering me tell the story their way.
More lack of perception…
Then you have people who weren’t paying attention because they were on the cellphone act outraged because you inconvenienced them. They don’t seem to get the concept that if you block your vision when you’re entrancing an interstate with a cellphone clinging to that side of your face, you just can’t pull out like no one is there.
There’s a disconnect here. A lack of being able to see reactions to your reactions and angst.
I’m not sure society is helping. A cop told me that they are taught, “there’s no such thing as accidents,” and there’s always someone to blame. Which is balderdash and, even if true, can make any potential traumatic situation far worse. And I often wonder, are they no longer teaching defensive driving? Are they teaching some extended version of what my driver’s ed teacher taught that if a squirrel crosses the road, or a dog, or a cat, you ignore them and drive straight on? I understand that, though I don’t totally agree. But I wonder if they are teaching some version of this when it comes to other drivers, “Drive straight on, it’s their job to get out of your way.” That would be teaching suicide, IMO.
I know this wasn’t an accident/driving commentary, but I really believe people show a lot of the problems you highlight in those kinds of situations. And this applies to so many other things. For every innocent we kill in war, how many new warriors/terrorists do we create? How much do we lose by supposedly winning? Why do those who act as if war is the solution rarely address that?
More lack of depth.
Do we really realize what our right, or left, hand is doing to us yet? In a metaphorical, political, sense, I suspect not… especially when I hear Neo Cons complain about how nasty discussion has become, or one who says Liberals idea of discussing is insulting those they disagree with and not to long after they call someone an idiot for daring to disagree with them.
Much of this intentional blindness (or not) goes to maturity, which seems in short supply amongst many “adults” these days.
Ana, I think it was Jim Hightower who once said of politicians: “The higher up the ladder the monkey climbs, the more you see of its ugly side.”
Ken, according to my ex-high school teacher friend, no, they don’t bother to teach defensive driving any longer. Just like everything else in public schools these days, they teach the kids to pass the test, period. As soon as the kid gets the license, they’re driving around with the cellphone plastered to their ear, telling all their friends they got their license. Nobody really tells them not to ‘multi-task’ while driving, except not to do it during the driving test itself.