Politics Magazine

Willful Blindness, Willful Deafness, Willful Muteness

Posted on the 14 August 2013 by Adask

See no Evil; Hear no Evil; SPEAK no Evil!

See no Evil; Hear no Evil; SPEAK no Evil!

Perhaps one of the Declaration of Independence’s most profound observations is that, “all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

No doubt true, and yet, how extraordinary.  Most people would rather suffer problems, pains and injustice than take action to “right themselves”.

And what is the first action that must be taken to resolve our “evils”?  We must first speak out to publicly expose those problems.

But what is most people’s greatest fear?  Public speaking.

Could it be that our fear of public speaking predisposes us to “suffer, while evils are sufferable” rather than speak out to expose the problem and begin the remedy?  Does our fear of public speaking ultimately explain our willingness to watch psychopaths rise to positions of wealth and power–and assent to that rise with our silence?  Does our fear of simply speaking out explain why we know that our government and nation are being destroyed by treason, and yet everyone seems more willing to “suffer” those losses than to take action?

Anyone who believe that America is on the wrong path, who’s tried to understand the causes for our problems, and then tried to communicate their growing understanding to others will relate to the following video on “willful blindness”.

I guarantee that over the past 30 years, I’ve encountered a mysterious resistance to many of my ideas.  I’ve tended to understand that resistance as evidence of 1) my own poor skills as a communicator; and 2) an intractable ignorance in most people that renders them incapable of understanding the ideas I try to communicate.

But now, I’m beginning to understand that the problem is not my “failure to communicate” or the public’s inability to comprehend.  I’m communicating well enough.  And most of the public already understands my warnings.  But even so, most people choose to “play dumb” and go about their business as if they had no knowledge of the problem–when, in fact, they understand very clearly.

According to the video below, when there’s a serious “problem,” 85% of people typically understand the problem’s existence, but won’t say anything about it.  In the midst of that collective silence, each of us thinks that we’re the only one who understands.  That sense of isolation–though false–predisposes us to remain silent.  And so, we only speak out against evils only when the evils finally become “insufferable”.

Thus, as a species, we have a tendency to remain “willfully blind” (or willfully deaf or even willfully mute). We know what’s wrong, but we prefer to “play dumb”.  Some of us justify our silence by claiming to fear to say what we’ve seen since we might be ridiculed by others. Others justify their silence by claiming to to be so pessimistic that we don’t believe positive change is possible. But knowing that a significant problem of any sort exists, 85% of us would rather “suffer” in silence than risk openly admitting that the problem exists.  And it’s not because we fear being ridiculed or ineffective–it’s because we are natural cowards when it comes to speaking out in public.

How bizarre.

There are a couple of important implications in this phenomenon.

First, if you see an “evil,” you may think that you’re all alone in that knowledge. You may claim to be afraid to speak out because you’ll be ridiculed as some sort of nut. But, odds are, most of your neighbors also know about the same problem–but also prefer to remain silent.

Point:  You are not alone in your knowledge. The challenge is not to “get the word out” or “educate” our neighbors. Most of them already know about the problem. The challenge is to get your neighbors to openly admit and talk about the knowledge they already have and then act on it.

Second, if it’s true that 85% of usually know about our various “problems” but choose to remain silent, we really do have a “silent majority” who–if they’re properly motivated–have the potential power to jump up at any time to cause dramatic, even revolutionary changes in their society.

In the end, we will not be enslaved because we’re overpowered.  We’ll be enslaved because we refuse to publicly object by simply speaking out.  If we are enslaved, we’ll be enslaved because we choose to remain silent.

What an extraordinary tragedy.  A nation as blessed and spectacular as The United States of America may be lost simply because the people are too cowardly to speak out.  This loss won’t take place because the people lack the courage to fight, shoot, bomb or kill. This loss, if there is such loss, will happen because the people are too cowardly to simply speak out.

•  I might be mistaken, but if I recall correctly, there may be several verses in the Bible that encourage God’s people to speak out, and “speak boldly” against evil and injustice and on God’s behalf.  I begin to see why God would want his people to “speak boldly”:  doing so would be the antidote for most people who choose to silently “suffer evils” rather than speak out to right themselves.  What single characteristic marked God’s prophets more than their willingness to “speak boldly”?  Could if follow that those susceptible to damnation are often characterized by a fear speaking out (“speaking boldly”)?

Here’s the 00:14:29 video on “Willful Blindness”–but perhaps the proper subject matter is “Willful Deafness” or even more properly, “Willful Muteness“–a refusal to speak out when there is a need and even a duty to do so.


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