Thursday, May 11, 2006

What's on the other side of your door?

A man does not look behind the door unless he has stood there himself.
- William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, educator and writer (1868-1963)

What's behind the door?
- nothing?
- the bogeyman?
- a monster?
- a rapist and murderer?
- a thief?
- your mother?
- your friends, waiting to surprise you with a party for your birthday?

Why do we suspect that anything or anyone may be behind the door? Because someone else has been behind there and surprised us before or because we have been there (either hiding away from someone or waiting to surprise someone) ourselves.

We don't even consider the possibility of someone doing something unusual, irrational, insane, offbeat, illegal, immoral or horrendous unless we have either heard about such a thing before or we have considered it ourselves.

Thus starvation of people in a distant land means little to us unless we have gone hungry. Fear of something means nothing unless we have experienced fear of that same thing ourselves.

We can be afraid, easily, based on what our media or friends have fed us about fearful things.

We could also be happy or delighted at some new experience, if only it would occur to us to take advantage of the opportunity to do it.

The unknown is something to be feared, according to many people. It's something to be enjoyed, according to those who take the trouble to tell us that.

For most people, the unknown doesn't exist until they experience it themselves.

Our lawmakers enact laws, policies and budget legislation on matters about which they know very little. They seldom consult those affected. They simply believe they know enough to create situations which affect the lives of others by virtue of reading a few paragraphs about it in notes that have been passed to them by lobbyists or other party members.

Oh, yes, our lawmakers suffer the same kind of temptation to act based on relative ignorance as the rest of us. When they do, we all suffer.

When we jump to conclusions about what's behind our own door, without having any reason to believe it's so, we suffer the consequences of acting on our own ignorance.

Oh, how we and those around us can suffer! Because we didn't find out what we needed to know before deciding what to do or what to think.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to have us look behind the door (to think realistically) before jumping to conclusions about what's there.
Learn more at

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