I don’t now why I’m writing about this now. I guess I’ve seen things all over the internet and in my life that have forced the topic to grow within my mind. I recently read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, there’s a lot of drama going on with that racist dude that owns the Clippers, I watched a woman slow to a stop, forcing a guy to walk around her so that she could feel outraged that he did so on my morning commute, etc. It all made me stop and think. The characters in the novel, the racist prick, that woman all seem to be lacking a good dose of self-awareness.
I’d suggest all people in the world have the same problem, to some extent. Including me. I complain about people that come off the bus and immediately fill up the sidewalk in front of me looking at their cell phones. They don’t see me, and I get irritated. Until I pass through the throng and look down at my cell phone. I am part of the problem. What’s even worse is I know this and I still mirror that same obnoxious behavior. I am also a scientist who has told researchers in the past “No, you can not do that project here. I’ve seen similar projects spend a lot of time with poor results, and I’m not interested.” Who’s to say that some genius won’t come along with a completely innovative way to do something and I will ignore it, because I’m “meh” about it? Who knows, that’s probably already even happened. Will that keep me from turning down projects in the future? Probably not. I recognize that my life experiences are the filter through which I process new knowledge and interactions. I’m not proud of it.
At one point in my professional career, I attended a class about “Civility in the Workplace” and while I was listening, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the people needing that class most would get absolutely nothing out of it. They would say “ugh I hate it when people do that” without recognizing how many times they do that very thing.
I think some racist assholes have the very same problem. I think they can recognize racism in the world that they witness, but they don’t necessarily see it within themselves. Sometimes it takes a nudge, like your mistress broadcasting your racist comments on the internet. Sometimes it takes a conversation with an open-minded little girl for Guy Montag to realize that he had no idea how wrong he was about the world he actively helped to form in Fahrenheit 451. That woman on the train? I guarantee she spent the rest of the day complaining about that douche that rudely walked around her, refusing to acknowledge her role in such a seemingly insignificant interaction.
Self-awareness is key to so many problems we have in the world. The lack of which leads to self-righteousness, thereby triggering the inability to see another person’s side. It is a road block to communication, forgiveness and growth. Just think how much we could accomplish and understand if we could just perceive ourselves a little better!