6 ways we are blind & 8 ways to hope

In a couple of hours, I am playing a funeral of an elderly man. The last time we spoke, he was wearing a breathing apparatus and was asking me about a hymn.

He was wondering if it was in our hymnals (since we print a lot of hymnody). I don’t remember the hymn, but he said he was going to need it soon. I presume we are singing it this morning at his funeral.

Death is kind of a theme this morning. I am reading the section in Berryman’s The Dream Songs where he gives way to several poems in memory of Delmore Schwarz who had recently died.

I like Schwarz but I found Berryman’s elegies a bit self referential to the world of poetry he knew. In his style of tell all relentless self scrutiny I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable.

I also suspect the fatigue is my own. Yesterday I felt a continual hum of mental of fatigue.

Mostly at the troubles of others around me. By the end of the day, I wanted nothing more than a martini and a conversation with my wife. Which is how we ended the day. Followed by attending a dance concert at which I recognized a good number of the dancers from my classes. There were no programs (ran out), so we as an audience were left to guess at the context and creators of each piece.

I think I figured out most of the choreographers.

This morning I finished In Search of the Missing Elephant by Don N. Michael. I am sure he is on to something. His insights resonate with me, but not necessarily with you, dear reader, which is why I will put them in different section below at the end of the daily links.


Andrew Breitbart, Conservative Blogger, Dies at 43 – NYTimes.com

This man was born the year I graduated from high school. Ahem.


The Machiavellian Temptation – NYTimes.com

A few thoughts on changing one’s behavior from David Brooks.


Four Fiscal Phonies – NYTimes.com

Krugman accurately parses the false rhetoric of the Republican candidates about fiscal policies.


Contraception War Goes On – NYTimes.com

insights from an historical warrior in the contraception war


Will Wall Street Ever Face Justice? – NYTimes.com

I’m gonna say no.


How drone war became the American way of life – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

Haven’t read this one yet.


The higher birtherism – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

Excellent article about how misconceptions cannot be recalled once they enter world wide dissemination. Explains a lot.


6 ways we don’t know what we are talking about (from Don N. Michael) … not only are we the blind men in the elephant story but we are the blind storyteller.

1. We have too much and too little information.

Information come at us fast and furious. Too much to process. The feedback loop is slower than real time so we process too late.

2. We have not set of shared set of value priorities.

3. the Dilemma of Context contributes to our mutual ignorance

“How many layers of understanding are necessary to have enough background to deal with the foreground?” asks Michael in this section.

You have no frame of reference here, Donnie.

4. Spoken language is too linear to map complexities that need mapping.

5. An increasing unavoidable absence of boundaries in our lives.

Without defined boundaries, there is no system… i.e. no elephant..

6.  Self-amplifying unpredictable acting out of the shadow side of each of us….

Michael admits that the shadow side of humans is where creativity resides, but points out that “often, in this complex world, the shadow is also in the service of violence, oppression, selfishness extreme positions of all stripes.”

Hmmmm. Reminds me of what passes for political rhetoric in the US right now.


8 responses to the fact of our mutual ignorance, blindness

1. We are unavoidably seekers of meaning as humans

2. It seems essential to acknowledge vulnerability and finiteness both in ourselves and our works

3. We must seek a poverty of spirit in the sense of “being poor in pride and arrogance and in the conviction I/we know what is right and wrong, what must be done, and how to do it.”

4. We must act in hope, not optimism.

5. Our commitments but “tentative commitments…” that is looking at situations carefully, committing ourselves to action but at the same time recognizing we may well be wrong and continual evaluate our direction

6. We must be “context alert.”

This means acknowledging that you can only be deeply understanding a few matters because of the depth of complexity of “differing values, priorities, contexts, boundaries and so on.”

7. We must be learners/teachers: question askers.

8. We must practice compassion….

“Given the circumstances I have described, facing life requires all the compassion we can bring to others and to ourselves. Be as self-conscious as possible, as much of the time as possible, and thereby recognize that we all live in illusion, we all live in ignorance, and we all search for and need meaning. We all need help facing that reality, and that help goes by the name of compassion.

“The blind must care for the blind.”

Don Micheal

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