I was not born blind nor did I lose my sight as a result of disease or accident, yet I am blind. I was not born deaf nor did I lose my ability to hear as a result of disease or accident, yet I am deaf. I was not born mute nor did I lose my ability to speak as a result of disease or accident, yet I am mute.
My condition is reminiscent of the pictorial maxim of the three wise monkeys who embody the proverbial precept of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” and are pictured side by side, with eyes, ears and mouth covered. Sometimes there is a fourth monkey depicted with the three others who symbolizes the principle of “do no evil”. He is usually shown covering his genital area, or crossing his arms.
In it’s original design the meaning ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb is associated with being of good mind, speech and action. However the use of the word evil is harsh and can denote extreme wickedness or immorality, depravity, or having to do with the devil. In the case of the wise monkeys, evil simple refers to anything harmful or inauspicious. I believe the wise monkeys represent those who choose to look the other way, those who refuse to acknowledge or feign ignorance. Sadly, it is this translation that applies to many of us including myself.
We are the deaf, dumb and blind kids of society. We have conditioned ourselves to look the other way. We have numbed ourselves to the plight of those around us. Do you remember the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes? Do you remember Sergeant Schultz, the bumbling guard who made looking the other way an art form with his famous lines “I see nothing…Nothing! or “I know nothing…Nothing!” We are the Sgt. Schultz’s of the world. We see only what we want to see, hear only what we want to hear, and say and do only what we deem necessary. The world around us could be crumbling in decay, but as long as our realm is untouched, everything’s okay. It’s not our concern, it’s non of our business. This, my friends is the current state of the human condition.
Now I don’t deny that there are individuals out there who have not succumbed to this crippling malady, God bless them, but they are vastly outnumbered. Too many of us have lost our sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Too many of us have lost our sense of fair-mindedness, as long as we don’t get screwed anything goes. Life goes on. What? You don’t agree? The world you see is vastly different from the one I’m describing? Well then you are truly deaf, dumb and blind, or you’re extremely naive. Let’s see if I can enlighten you a little.
Let’s look at monkey number one. He’s covering his eyes by choice. How many times in the course of our daily lives do we choose not to see something. For example, the parent who in a public place, a park, a store or parking lot, is over disciplining or abusing his child by grabbing him cruelly, shaking him or assaulting him verbally, you’ve seen them, you know you have, and what have you done about it? Did you intercede or notify the authorities? Probably not. Most likely you felt a pang of concern, but went about your business anyway. If your heart hasn’t entirely turned to ice you may have felt some guilt, but I’m sure it passed quickly.
What about that group of high school kids you saw hanging around behind the market. It looked like they were passing something around in a brown shopping bag and taking turns holding it to their faces. Did you confront them? Did you say anything or report it? Probably not. More than likely you were just glad that it wasn’t one of your own kids and moved on.
And what about that disabled vet at the signal, near the freeway, with the “will work for food” and “Every little bit helps”signs. He looked right at you. Did you acknowledge him? He lost his leg over in Iraq, protecting us, fighting for our country and yet you pretended not to see him. You looked the other way. Shame on you! Too often we chose to cover our eyes. Sometimes things are right there in front of us, but to protect ourselves from the pain or commitment that truth may bring, like morons we deliberately choose not to see them. Yep, like monkey number one, “We see nothing…Nothing!
Monkey number two is covering his ears, again by choice. How many times a day do you use you selective hearing to filter out the bad and hear only the good? How many times do you tune out, because what’s being said doesn’t affect your little world? Perhaps you tune someone or something out defensively, because what’s being said is inappropriate. That’s fine, but rare. In most cases we tune out simply because we are not interested in what’s being said, we’re bored.
Has anyone who was relating something to you ever asked suddenly, “Are you listening to me?” Busted! You quickly respond “Of course I am!”(NOT!) Other times we don’t want to listen because there may be some sort of commitment associated with what’s being said, we want plausible denial. We want to able to say that we never heard it. You never heard that your child’s classroom needs more volunteers, even though you were right there when it was said. How about when your spouse or significant other is rambling on about something or other that happened during the course of their day. Are you listening? Do you hear what their saying or have you successfully blocked it all out and only appear to be listening, because you really don’t care, it has absolutely nothing to do with you so forget about it!
Maybe you made the mistake of casually asking someone “How are you?” And God forbid! Instead of the simple, one word answer you were expecting like “fine, okay or alright,” they begin to actually tell you exactly how they’re doing, every frickin’ detail, going on and on… ARE YOU LISTENING, or are you off in the Bahamas somewhere? Do you hear their frustration, feel their pain? Or is “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” all that you hear? We just don’t take the time to listen anymore and when we do, we do so selectively! We hear only what we want to hear. Like monkey number two, “we hear nothing…Nothing!” To be continued…