Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blinding Sight

Fundamental. I just had another one of those sudden flashes, where things become horribly clear. This one at a most fundamental level.

Most people, it seems, of all persuasions, go about their daily lives wearing "blinders". Yes, those things they put on horses that allow them to walk through city streets filled with noxious cars and loud pedestrians. The idea, simple and clever, behind horse blinders is what the horse can't see, it won't be afraid of.

Now, it's not much of a stretch to realize that your average common man or woman reaches for a convenient set of blinders every morning, so that they can focus on and accomplish the things in their lives that need to get done. In our modern world, if you were to walk out in the noon-day sun, unbridled, the world you encounter would paralyze you instantly. There is too much, too wrong, too crazy and too out of control for even the greatest of our minds to cope with a fraction of the madness. We live in a big confused world, of drastically interconnected events. A shrinking world that grows exponentially more confusing every year.

That much I've known and understood about people for a long time, but what I've come to realize lately is deeper.

Your average person wears pretty intense blinders, choosing to not know or understand how a significant portion of the world around them works. That's not unsurprising since not that even the most brilliant of our geniuses could understand it anyways. To survive, you need to focus, not understand.

Every once in a while, you might meet a person, or two that is crippled by their inability to close down their blinders enough. They see too much, and consequently think too much. This makes it hard to react in a world were more information isn't always a good thing. They freeze, incapable of acting.

So, what about our leaders, those movers and shakers that work their way up through the masses to high-level positions of power and authority? Intuitively you'd expect that they are using their superior intellect to see more and respond better to the things going on in this world, wouldn't you?

But that is the flash. A bright and nasty one. For some of those in power that might be true, but the reality is that most of them have just shut their blinders down even farther than average. Yep, they see less than the rest of us. In a scary way, it stands to reason. Look at our history, our politics, and all of the big raging significant issues of the day. So often they come down to malice vs. ignorance, don't they? Are we really surround by so many evil selfish people, or is this simply a case of them wearing very effective blinders? Could you really ascend through the ranks at a rapid pace if you knew of all the hardship you left in your wake?

In a true and maddening sense, the people we depend on the most, the ones that should be leading us with their superior abilities, are in may ways the opposite. Rather than some orderly procession, we're drawn through the muck by a team of energetic horses, who can barely see what's in front of them. They may not be panicking about what's along side of them at this moment, but even when they should, they've drawn their blinders so tight that the largest of serious roadblocks is no longer visible. An we, of course, are drawn along helplessly with them.

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