In my father’s house, some fifty years ago, we had a set of Collier’s Encyclopedia and a set of The Book of Knowledge, about thirty books in all. To us, these books and the few others my father possessed, were the limit of our Internet. Our knowledge of the world did not go far beyond those books and the small, 15″ black and white television on the other side of the room. We lived a sheltered live.
There was a hand drawn, color picture in one of those books depicting a crime scene. The picture was fairly innocuous and nothing like the image above. The image in the book showed a street with several every day items; a clock, a car, fire hydrant, a few citizens going about their business and a crime represented by a store front with a broken window. Simple, easy to understand. Not complicated.
The objective was for children like me to study at the image for thirty seconds then turn the page. The following page had questions about what the picture showed you. It was a memory test and you were the detective. What time was it? What color was the car? What is the man wearing? What was the woman holding? Is there an animal in the scene? As memory tests of the era went, it worked.
I remember looking at, studying it as fast as my ten year old brain could in the untimed thirty seconds. I wasn’t very good. My older sister seemed to remember more of it than I. Perhaps she had taken the test more times than I. Perhaps we simply looked at it differently.
It is much the same today. Why is it in 2016, when we view something on the Internet or on cable, we are guilty of doing the same thing my sister and I did, only now the conversation is soaked in hate rather than instruction? Why? Is my prejudice in the way? Is yours? Is my bias blinding me to what you see? Is yours blinding you to what I see? How did we come to this division, this mistrust of each other? Why is it what we cannot discuss civilly what we see, what happened, without blaming someone we have never met?
We do that you know, really we do. The vitriol in the public square is overwhelming and disheartening. I try not to participate on Facebook or news media conversations. It seems pointless. The comments are mostly hateful. And in the few times I have expressed my contrary point of view, the backlash becomes ad hominem so I remain silent for the most part.
It saddens me, all this eternal hatred we have chosen to embrace. I pray it will end one day, when we forgive each other first, without condemnation, regardless of those pesky facts we see so differently.