He yells, “It’s a yellow ocean!” His brother is standing a few feet back and has a bigger piece of the whole picture. He says, “No, it’s a yellow truck.” Which of the two would you say got it right?
Let’s imagine another scene: in the news, a man is screaming for help to get out of a cesspool. A guy in a private jet comments, “No way! People swim in swimming pools, not cesspools. Why should anyone help you?” Another guy sipping wine on his nice patio, in the back of his nice house, in the suburbs, bought with his well-paying job, agrees, “Yep. That sounds right. A swimming pool, it is! And I didn’t push you in. No need for me to be concerned.” Meanwhile the guy who fell into the cesspool screams, “For the love of God, help me out of here! I’m drowning in all the piss and feces! Please help!”
Who would you say got this one right?
The different people in these scenarios live in different perception bubbles. Each has a view of a different part of the world. So, when they argue about the nature of this world, they consider each other ignorant.
I see this happening a lot in our politics.
Some ninety percent of our country are clamoring for badly-needed help. The top 1% either won’t hear them in their palaces and private jets or they tell them their problems aren’t real. The roughly 9% in between more often than not agree with the 1% because they, too, have not experienced the world the bottom 90% live in. Whether they are “Republican” or “Democrat,” they are too established to know the non-established life. And, yes, many of them say things like the poor are themselves to blame for a society which creates poverty or that the poor only need to get a better education and millions of high-pay jobs will magically materialize out of thin air. It’s easy to be delusional when it suits your own comfort. And it’s easy not to see the whole picture when you don’t even try.
And so we consider each other ignorant and fall into quarreling.
Made vulnerable by our bubble-blindness, we easily fall for artificial dividers, too, often created or inflamed by demagogues working for the 1%: gender, race, sexuality, or … the really clever one: “conservatives” versus “liberals” (or “progressives”). Even the 1% believe the demagogues, after a while. They’re so convincing.
But let me ask you: Do you know anyone who doesn’t want freedom? We are ALL liberals! Do you know anyone who wants nothing in the world to ever change? We are ALL progressives!
And do you know anyone who doesn’t want to preserve something good? Heck no! Especially as we get older, we want to preserve more and more things. We are ALL conservatives!
This whole spiel about a “conservative” party whose platform you must support against your own interests, even when you are part of the 90%, is one of the slickest tricks ever pulled off by the establishment. The neoliberals with their deceptive Realpolitik aren’t much better.
Neither are identity, single-issue, party-line, and gender voting, all enabled by those bubbles being too small.
So, being bubble-blind, it’s easy to dismiss visionaries like Bernie Sanders and many of his supporters, when all you can see is yellow paint. And it’s easy to dismiss people in dire need when you have never stepped out of your privileged comfort zone to see if maybe, just maybe, you might be morally obligated to care about others who are less fortunate than you.
I’ll leave you with that.