Waking people from tranquilized obviousness: the paradox of patience in an emergency
hyperlinks for references and documentation are live at the source: http://www.examiner.com/x-18425-LA-County-Nonpartisan-Examiner~y2009m9d1...
The recognition of facts, even when in plain sight, is challenging. Res ipsa loquitur, the facts do speak for themselves, but getting people to notice may not be easy.
Joshua Bell, one of the world’s elite violinists whose CDs Romance of the Violin sold over 5 million copies, played for 45 minutes at an entrance to a Washington, D.C. subway during rush hour. Hardly anyone stopped. The reporting of this phenomenon by Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten won a Pulitzer. People didn’t recognize the brilliance of Bell’s music due to competing and distracting facts:
1.They’re busy; it’s difficult to compete with peoples’ immediate concerns even with brilliance.
2.People pay attention to “platforms,” an office title, stage, or previous history.
3.People would have to see through a kind of lie; “Why am I hearing this here? If this had value, I wouldn’t be receiving it here.” For the ignorant in this area, they may also think, “I don’t recognize this tune; therefore it can’t have value.”
For those of us who have the “hobby” of waking people from the tranquilized obviousness of human relations, let’s continue Joshua Bell’s experience as a thought experiment. What if Josh kept showing up? How long do you think it would take commuters who recognized some beauty to begin sincere conversations within their own minds? A week or two? And then how long do you think it would take for people to choose to listen to Josh for enough time to give his work sincere evaluation? And then how much longer before those crowds would talk among themselves, with experts joining in testimony to confirm that the brilliance of what people thought they were hearing was indeed true brilliance?
It seems obvious that patience and persistence of key elements for success if our thought experiment would be true and applicable to our work. This might be what President Calvin Coolidge was pointing to:
"Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - President Calvin Coolidge, Quote from a program at a Coolidge memorial service, 1933; cited in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999)
Many of you reading this already understand this concept of persistence and accept we are less brilliant in our work than Joshua Bell in his. Most of us do this as a hobby. Persistance and patience is relevant to drawing attention to $1 trillion dollars of benefit to Americans through monetary reform, understanding US and international laws of war and why current US invasions are Wars of Aggression, understanding the laws of torture despite Mr. Cheney admitting to unanimous case law-established torture (that means the conservative legal definition is agreed) with impunity, and understanding we can save a million children’s lives a month from preventable poverty. This lack of recognition is despite many of our brightest minds in history speaking and writing with the greatest eloquence and power for monetary reform, our Founding Fathers admonishing us to defend our US Constitution and limited government from encroachment by tyrants, and nobody in favor of letting children die from poverty.
Peter Dale Scott helped expose the lies of the Vietnam War with his book The War Conspiracy. He calls the phenomenon of peoples’ rejection of painful facts that will raise further painful questions “deep politics.” His article, “Martial law, the financial bailout, and war” quickly summarizes the reprehensible facts of the so-called “bailout:” no independent expert testimony through hearings, a rush to vote under threat of martial law (not widely reported, and documented in the article), and having no accountability how the money is being used. Scott then points to the possibility that this is an engineered collapse of our economy that includes the use of martial law. The silver lining to this danger is that our prolonged exposure to financial disaster from both parties’ “leadership” also obviously opens the door to public motivation to embrace monetary reform. Peter Dale Scott is brilliant, yet his pioneering work of breaking our tranquilized obviousness has been for 40years.
I don’t know how long we’ll need to work.
When I wrote for Truth and Reconciliation as a policy response to the current crimes that are obvious except to the tranquilized, I had two events of synchronicity. First: that morning I pulled into a drive-thru for breakfast after an early morning errand. About fifteen feet ahead of me a white mourning dove flew and crashed onto the restaurant’s window. It fluttered onto my driver-side windshield wiper, facing me. The beautiful little bird seemed woozy and mostly kept its transparent eyelids closed. After I received my breakfast burrito, I slowly drove 40 feet to park under a tree. My companion remained still. I got out, slowly extended my closed hand (as when greeting a dog to show I am not extending claws like a predator), and stroked its chest. The dove allowed me to pick it up and place it on a branch. As you know, a white dove is typically considered a symbol of peace. Are we collectively holding peace in our hands with Truth and Reconciliation?
Second: I return home, walk in the door, and my young daughter, Grace, says, “Dad, come here. I want to show you something. Look.” She’s watching the Pixar movie, “The Incredibles.” The story is at the point where the good guys have tried and failed to stop the antagonist’s machine of destruction. Mr. Incredible suddenly has an insight: the only thing strong enough to defeat this evil is itself! He takes a projectile from the machine, ignites it, and turns it into the core, thereby ending its power. I’m entranced, watching. Grace summarizes, “See, he remembered. The machine can destroy itself!” Hmmm.
Finally, my wife believes waking people will fail. Because I’m an educator she gave me this analogy: “Imagine a playground with 5,000 children. Some are vicious and have organized gangs that steal and kill. You are among five adults. Go ahead: organize them.” She also agrees there is nothing better for us to do than our best good-faith effort.
We’ll find out.
(Thanks to wanttoknow.info for pointing out the Joshua Bell article, among hundreds of similar brilliance.)