Wednesday, October 7, 2015


The last time I gave blood my daughter was a little girl and I had to bring her along with me. She had some activity books to help her pass the time. One of them was a hidden picture book. As I sat across the room with a needle in my arm, a nice lady kept her company and gave her some good advice.

"If you can't find something, it helps to turn the picture upside down."

It really does. It also works on those hidden picture games in the iPad, tilting just enough to the left or the right to change your perspective. Suddenly, at just the right angle, an item which was somehow invisible magically appears.

Sometimes the solution appears only if you are willing to change your point of view. And if you are highly invested in seeing the world from only one location, then finding the solution is not as important to you as maintaining your personal belief that you are the North Star.

Around town I see plenty of examples of this. The co-chairs of the Oakland Mills Village Board who resorted to a secret meeting with the County in order to prevent the larger community from hearing their presentation on Grande Pointe. The school system, responding to community pressure, forms an Indoor Environmental Quality Advisory Committee, but doesn't include anyone with expertise in mold issues. The County Executive forms an Early Childhood Education Task Force but doesn't include anyone with early childhood credentials.

And there's more. Once you look around, it's pretty clear that people will go to great lengths to defend their own slice of reality. It reminds me of this quote:

"When they discover the center of the universe, some people are going to be very surprised that they are not it."

The last time I gave blood the attendant stuck a needle in my arm and then opened a can of Coke and told me to drink up. I protested. I hate Coke. It makes me sick to my stomach. She was adamant.

"This is the way I do it, and I never have anybody pass out."

So I drank the Coke, because I had a needle in my arm and she wasn't going to let me go until I drank it. She had one way of looking at the world and she had the power of the needle to enforce it. I felt sick for the rest of the day, and I haven't given blood since.

I feel the same way about people who aren't willing to see things in more than one way. Dealing with them just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And it makes you think twice before getting involved in community issues.

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