By Bart Vogelzang | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA — We have recently seen some strong examples of perspective blindness; that is, not being able to see something because our perception of something ‘distant’ is obscured by something closer to us.
Most of us have heard the expression “can’t see the forest for the trees” but that is only the tip of the issue. Physically it happens all the time that we cannot see something further away because something closer to us obscures the view. In fact, kids even make a game of it, putting their fingers in front of their eyes to not see something. Your view from your windscreen can be obscured by something dangling from your mirror (which is why you are not supposed to drive with a handicap placard), or your passenger’s head may obscure the view out the side window, leaving you with a major blind spot when changing lanes. For that matter, the frames on your sunglasses might take away enough of your view that you don’t see something vital.
Sadly though, perspective blindness is not just physical in nature, but also mental and emotional. We can see the overall picture of starving children and adults in Somalia, but the nearness of our own worries about our next paycheck obscures it from our view. We see and cheer the drive for freedom in Libya, but it only takes a relatively moderate earthquake to make it all disappear from our consciousness. We feel sad and upset at the near loss or actual loss of a revered politician, but a freak storm in our own town completely negates all that angst and upset and we focus on the nearer and more prominent disaster immediately next to us.
This perspective blindness is a good thing, a survival instinct, which insists that nearby is more urgent than distant, more important as it could affect us right now, as opposed to some time in the future. However, it is also a very bad thing, because we don’t live our lives in little pockets of nearness, but live it in the overall world, interacting with all the various people surrounding us, both near and far. To not see the distant problems means not dealing with them, and that spells long term catastrophe, or at best, suffering. We need to make sure that we look away from our immediate surroundings and needs, at the more distant ones. We need to see developments before they become dangerous to our welfare.
The LGBTQ community is suffering from this perspective blindness to a huge degree–
We are wrapped up in our own personal angst, with bullies, family condemnation, ignorant remarks, seeking a loving partner, getting married, etc. What we are not seeing is the systematic attack being mounted by the conservative religious rightwing zealots, who are slyly using false and slanted language whenever they talk about homosexuality. We are not seeing their attempts to erode our support, with lies, faked reports and phony statistics. We are not noticing their efforts at changing laws, replacing politicians, and removing judges. Sure, the odd one of us does, probably because an incident is close to home, but for the most part nobody notices.
When Montana screws with their citizens’ rights, it is NOT just their problem, but only they seem to notice. When Maine is in a struggle for equality, is it NOT just their problem. When an idiot Governor holds ludicrous prayer meetings it is NOT just affecting that state, it is affecting everyone.
We need to clear our localized perspective away from our eyes, see the bigger picture, and deal with the greater issues which are coming to meet us; and they will come to meet us, whether we see them or not. If we don’t fix our perspective and deal with things, we will all pay the price. What we need to do, quite simply said, is take ANY attack on any one of us as being a personal one, and respond with all the strength and vehemence as if it was happening right now, to ourselves