What is Wilfull Blindness?
If I say the word “blindness” different images materialize for different people based on their own past perception of what blindess means to them. Perhaps many of you thought of the famous Helen Keller, or maybe you thought of a grandparent who has lost their vision, or maybe you envisioned a person walking down the street with a white-red tipped cane.
We all live in the magic “circle of life” and yet we are oblivious to what that means…
Some of us are God-fearing people, some of us are God-loving people, some of us are atheists, and some of us are right in between, holding on to the hope that Thomas-the-Apostle made it into heaven and so will we. Yet we all have a blind spot, or maybe we have more than one blind spot in our lives.
There are various levels of blindness, but what I will describe today is “willful blindness”, not a physical phenomenon, though it could manifest itself with physical attributes, “willful blindness” is generally when an individual has the power to allow light to penetrate thought, in the form of knowledge or fresh data, and that individual chooses to remain in darkness. Sometimes they stay in the dark because it is the easiest thing to do, or they stay in the darkness to avoid making a decision that is uncomfortable for them. Basically, willful blindness is when the light of “knowing” is there, brilliantly glowing and an yet, an individual reaches up, grabs the brass swinging chain, and extinguishes that light. Willful blindness is the moment we grab that brass chain and pop off that light.
Just as there are various levels of “blindness” there are various levels of “darkness”. If total blindness is the complete absence of form and light, with little or no perception, then what is “willful blindness”?
There are 39 million people in the world who are officially labeled “blind”. However, the world has 7 billion people and in truth, 7 billion people can be “willfully blind” in their daily lives, while working at their jobs, while engaged in their intimate relationships, and while making decisions that affect not only one’s own life, but the lives of others and in the case of world leaders, making decisions that affect the entire world’s population.
Willful blindness can ooze into one’s daily life like a cracked egg through one’s fingers while preparing breakfast. You knew you should have cracked that egg gently into a bowl with two hands, but you chose to do it “a la Julia Child style” with one hand, and there you have it, yellow yoke and clear goo oozing through your fingers. Willful blindness is a choice—choosing to not “see”, to not “reason”, to not “listen to an inner voice”, to allow one’s personality to control bad choices, to choose willful blindness while putting values on the shelf of convenience, to choose willful blindness when one knows the outcome will cause conflict.
People generally perceive “conflict” as a bad thing, rather than to try to see it as an impetus for change.
There is so much we read about in today’s world. We wake up to horrifying news, beautiful news, and mediocre news. We have a choice to move toward action inspired by what we hear, but most of us just shake our heads and make “tch, tch” sounds and do nothing. Some of us have jobs that require us to make decisions that affect our employers, our co-workers, and perhaps even the world. When we see “something” that is a little off or rubs us a little across the grain, do we take decisive action even if it means that we might experience some type of discomfort? Most of us would have to say no. We choose “willful blindness”. We will ourselves to look the other way, or we hope someone else will come forward, or that the issue that has come to light just vaporizes, quietly.