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Saturday, November 29, 2014

What We Want to See, What we Expect to Hear

It was Thanksgiving Day and we were in a family gathering feast. My wife was feeding my youngest, who surveyed the tables stacked with various foods. Suddenly, his eyes grew large and he doddered over to the table with one of his favorite foods, bread. It got me to thinking about the fifteen of us, as we entered that space, our eyes dancing from one thing to the next.... What were we honing in on?

Often we see what we are 'looking for.' We might not even notice something that does not appeal. There is nothing profound about this, it is how things work. 

A couple days ago I went on Facebook. I do not go there much at all. What I saw disturbed me. There were a series of posts by people whom I have known for thirty years or more. While few of those people are part of my daily life any longer, there is no doubt that there is affection and positive regard shared. The posts were expressions of rage about this and that. There was a tendency for certain kinds of comments to come from certain kinds of groups. As they looked at various events, they tended to hone in on those aspects which reinforced their thinking. No surprise, and this tunnel vision is not limited to any particular group.

Like my son, our eyes get big and we are very enthused when we can identify particular events which are examples of what we believe. We need to ask ourselves, "What would I want the truth to be?" and, perhaps, ask ourselves, "Why?"

Reality is bigger than our capacity to capture in words. The narratives we construct are necessarily truncated (and therefore inaccurate). We edit out details, sometimes very important details. By definition we can not see what we are blind to. 

Segmented truth can also be a partial lie. Reality is complex and difficult. We are not always clear on what "just, fair and loving" looks like for everyone. Power and demands for "me/us" are impacted by what we see and hear, and what we see and hear is twisted.

Maybe that is why Jesus came as a slave to die on a cross? Maybe we can only be freed from ourselves when we die to ourselves?


1 comment:

  1. Physician, heal thyself.

    Your own hilariously biased blog--have you forgotten that you actually wrote a year ago something to the effect that being right-wing provided one with a more reliable tendency toward the good?--is a perfect illustration of the very blinkered thinking that you think you are warning us about.

    As to the "shocking" comments of your Facebook friends, well what do you think they are, Jeff, but more open and honest expressions of the ignorance, prejudice, and small-mindedness that you promote here? Whether or not they are your readers, Jeff, they are your spiritual cousins.

    There is a passage in the great divorce in which the narrator, shocked by the ruined and imbecilic character of the faces of his fellow passengers on the bus, is suddenly brought up short by a glimpse of his own face in a mirror.

    On Thanksgiving Day, you got a glimpse of your own face, Jeff. You just don't know it yet.