Take Off Your Blindfold

533. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

We were talking about illegal immigration. He is very conservative and was adamant that “illegals are breaking the law!” He exclaimed, “The law is the law! They’re breaking the law and should feel the consequences of their actions.” He made his proclamation about the black and white nature of the law and its consequences as he was lighting a joint – and the hypocrisy of his actions did not occur to him, not even for a moment. And although I found the moment absurd I did not think it was remarkable. As a successful white male he has always had a different relationship with the law and power than, for instance, the person trying to sneak across the border to find a better life. Things look differently at the top of the pyramid than it does at the bottom. When you are at the top, claiming a moral authority is part of the gig even though it requires holding others to an absolute code that you have never held yourself. I suppose it is the nature and necessity of power-over-others to excuse your self from participation; the need to control is a specifically exclusive act.

Of course he is not unusual. Tom taught for many years, long enough to see his students become adults – some with families, some even became teachers themselves. He used to laugh at the maniacal adults who wanted to impose strict rules on their children and students, rules that they would never have adhered to themselves. I’m fairly certain the proponents and makers of our current culture of testing never experienced nor would tolerate the madness they are now imposing on the nation’s children. Tom used to say, “Are their memories so short or is there another agenda entirely?” It was a rhetorical question.

One of my favorite Mad Magazine cartoons was of two hippies beating each other with signs, one read “Peace” and the other, “No More War.” What is it that allows us the peculiar blindness to afford ourselves consideration that we refuse to extend to others? When I am driving and inadvertently cut someone off I think, “Whoa! I didn’t see them.” When someone cuts me off, I am certain they are, “Trying to kill me!” Or making a statement or pulling status or…. I will never grant them the same specificity that I grant myself until I deem that they, too, have a story. Until then I do not see “them;” I see the story I project on their action.

The line becomes less black-and-white; the world becomes less absolute when I consider the human; when I factor in the circumstance, the necessity, the emotion, and the need; with personal story comes nuance and consideration. Lady Justice (both the inner version and the one standing before every courthouse) has never been as blind as she pretends.

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