Good Omens Question #17 ~ A Blind Eye

by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Good Omens Question #17 ~ A Blind Eye

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:35 am

Pg. 311 (paperback) 313 (hardback). “Perhaps they saw what their minds were instructed to see, because the human brain is not equipped to see War, Famine, Pollution, and Death when they don’t want to be seen, and has got so good at not seeing that it often manages not to see them even whey they abound on every side.” How can the human brain be so good at blocking out the problems all around?
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Unread postby KYwoman » Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:53 am

It's a defense mechanism, I suppose. If you didn't have a way to filter out all the negative in the world, it could be overwhelming. Makes me think of people Johnny talks about (ie Wilmot) that he feels were people that felt too deeply, and so then 'self-medicated'. Maybe they were not good at blocking out the bad. Also, to me if you see the 'bad', at some point you are then responsible for doing something about it. It's easier for some to ignore or put off on others to deal with things than to take it on themselves. Sadly, others may just not be interested in the 'big picture' or the welfare of others.

I'm one of those who has a hard time NOT seeing it. It's frustrating and overwhelming to think that so much of the larger issues are out of your control. This then goes back to the point you made earlier DITHOT, about 'think globally, act locally.' As one person, it's much more doable to address these large negatives on a smaller scale.

Again, this question goes back to the events surrounding Katrina here in the US. With everything that was going on in the aftermath I heard people saying that it was the people's own fault for not getting out or taking care of themselves. No sympathy what so ever. Lack of sympathy/empathy can result in lack of action.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:20 am

It can be overwhelming, KY, there is so much in this world that needs to be addressed and righted. Blaming the victim seems to be an easy out for a lot of people instead of looking for the underlying reality that is causing a problem.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby luvdepp » Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:09 pm

I agree. Out of sight, out of mind. "If we just ignore it, it will go away" mentality. Which of course, doesn't work. I also think that people get so wrapped up in their own little world and their own issues at hand, that they just don't have the energy or willingness to deal with the bigger issues that will eventually affect us all.
"So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself, who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed." ~HST~

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Unread postby suec » Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:25 pm

I think some people don't see the big picture. And certainly not a sense of responsibility for it, at times. I am always aghast when I see people tossing litter out of their cars, because they want to keep them nice and tidy. Who do they think is going to pick it up off the streets? Well, the cleaners - if they think that far. It probably isn't their own environment that they are messing up - just somewhere they are driving through. I think a sense of ownership is crucial. Often, if people don't have that, then they don't take responsibility.
I guess the same can be applied to other issues, such as famine. If it is far enough away from them, then again, the sense of ownership and community isn't there. Perhaps we are not programmed to have a sense of community that comprises so many? perhaps the big picture is too big. And certainly we see what we want to see. There is a term, too, - which I can't remember - for the way that we notice what is in the forefront of our minds.
We may care, but feel helpless or defeatist too. Then again, there are always the exceptions, the Bob Geldofs, to stand up and say actually, we can make a difference.
Got to sign off here for a bit. I am away for a week. :bounce: I am sorry to miss part of the discussion but will catch up. See you all when I get back!
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Unread postby stroch » Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:20 pm

In addition to what you all have said, sometimes the issues are just too horiffic to really accept.

We've read about it , but can you really imagine yourself living during the Black Death? Or the seige of Stalingrad? Or watching your children starve to death?

We even forget physical pain. We would go mad if we could not.
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Unread postby fansmom » Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:57 pm

Yes, we have to be able to block things out. Have you ever driven through a town with a paper mill or some other stinky heavy industry and wondered how the people stand the smell? We have to be able to become accustomed to things or we would indeed go mad. Even wearing underwear would be difficult!

On the other hand, I think I'd be able to recognize War, Death, Famine, and Pollution when they first crossed my path. Perhaps I'd become accustomed to them after a while (does the clutter in my home count as pollution I don't notice much?) but unless they really "abound on every side" I'd like to think I'd be aware of them.

Reminds me of the bumper sticker I've quoted here before: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:32 pm

suec wrote:
Perhaps we are not programmed to have a sense of community that comprises so many? perhaps the big picture is too big.


That hits home for me suec. Sometimes it seems there is so much need and so much to be done that we are paralyzed by not knowing where to start. I suppose it is like eating the proverbial elephant. We'll miss you while you are away...have a great vacation!

fansmom, I see that bumper sticker a lot where I am from.
:grin:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby fansmom » Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:17 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:fansmom, I see that bumper sticker a lot where I am from. :grin:
Yep, Austin, the little blue city in a big red state. ;-)

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Re: Good Omens Question #17 ~ A Blind Eye

Unread postby Veronica » Wed Aug 23, 2006 6:14 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Pg. 311 (paperback) 313 (hardback). “Perhaps they saw what their minds were instructed to see, because the human brain is not equipped to see War, Famine, Pollution, and Death when they don’t want to be seen, and has got so good at not seeing that it often manages not to see them even whey they abound on every side.” How can the human brain be so good at blocking out the problems all around?


Im not sure most people dont intentionally block things out. At least I dont. But you cant fix it all. There is so much wrong that you have to pick your battles & give what you can. the rest is left in your beliefs. Whether its prayer or just fate or both. there are some things in this world that are caused because of what people do to themselves. We shouldnt just ignore them but how can you take it all on. You have to have quality of life & you have to take care of your family & care about your surroundings, your community. I guess the best thing anyone can do is try not to add to the problems & try to solve as much as you can.
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Unread postby nebraska » Wed Aug 23, 2006 10:06 pm

A friend of mine who was an Air Force pilot in the Korean and Vietnam wars told me that men who were wounded in battle did not experience the amount of pain that you would expect because their resources were pooled to their vital organs to try to help them survive. I suppose on an emotional level we survive the same way. In order to survive emotionally and mentally, we have to turn off some of the horror or we would be consumed with hopelessness. I think that is meant to be a good thing; i suppose it is how we use that defense that matters.

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Re: Good Omens Question #17 ~ A Blind Eye

Unread postby Raven » Wed Aug 23, 2006 10:20 pm

Veronica wrote:
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Pg. 311 (paperback) 313 (hardback). “Perhaps they saw what their minds were instructed to see, because the human brain is not equipped to see War, Famine, Pollution, and Death when they don’t want to be seen, and has got so good at not seeing that it often manages not to see them even whey they abound on every side.” How can the human brain be so good at blocking out the problems all around?


Im not sure most people dont intentionally block things out. At least I dont. But you cant fix it all. There is so much wrong that you have to pick your battles & give what you can. the rest is left in your beliefs. Whether its prayer or just fate or both. there are some things in this world that are caused because of what people do to themselves. We shouldnt just ignore them but how can you take it all on. You have to have quality of life & you have to take care of your family & care about your surroundings, your community. I guess the best thing anyone can do is try not to add to the problems & try to solve as much as you can.


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Unread postby Shadow » Wed Aug 23, 2006 10:28 pm

Maybe I have Captain Jack on the brain too much, but this thread reminds me of him. "The only thing that really matters is what a man can do, and what a man can't do." The tragic things that go on around us that we cannot control, we cope with by waving (or ignoring) as they pass by.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:39 am

Hi everyone. Trying to catch up here.....

All such insightful answers! I think that we block out disturbing issues as a defense mechanism, as KY said, to protect ourselves. I know I do. I stopped listening to the news a while back because it was just too depressing and was affecting the quality of my life. It was too overwhelming and I spent too much time worrying about the state of the world. Unfortunately, I started listening again, but not during this vacation because I don't want to put a damper on it. I also think that on a personal level we block out reality in order to function. Sometimes it is too scary or too inconvenient to admit certain things are not right in your life, so you live in a state of denial--because it is easier.

Suec, hope you have a great time, whatever you are doing.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:56 am

Shadow wrote:Maybe I have Captain Jack on the brain too much, but this thread reminds me of him. "The only thing that really matters is what a man can do, and what a man can't do." The tragic things that go on around us that we cannot control, we cope with by waving (or ignoring) as they pass by.


Good comparison, shadow. :cool: I also think Jack showed us what a man can do.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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