Originally posted February 5, 2004, as one can tell by the names and positions of the principle players. Since I often repost my older work, but don’t keep track of it, I’m always a bit concerned that a post may be a repeat of a repeat. If this one is, please forgive me, but know this: I don’t repost my old posts at random. There is always a contemporaneous point to be gleaned. And, sometimes, I’ll let the reader glean it for self.
It’s fascinating how the human mind works; how we’re able to block out memories that are too painful. I submit that this ability is a defense against insanity, with which some are more blessed than others.
I think also that some are too “blessed” with this ability. Often, this defense mechanism is so strong, that not only are some able to block out harm inflicted upon them, but harm that they have inflicted upon others.
Sometimes this neat trick of blocking unpleasant facts/occurrences is so strong, that some can’t even remember events that conflict with their view of how the world works. If they think all blacks are inferior, they won’t recall meeting the black physicist; if they think all rich people steal from the poor, they won’t remember reading about any self-made millionaires that had a “dream:” a product or a service for which millions of people shelled out money through their own free will.
Amazing, this ability.
A friend who thinks that any occurrence that might work in a given Republican’s favor is some sort of conspiracy, postulated that the  ricin special delivery to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-TN) office was a plot hatched by the RNC. When I pointed out that the previous senate majority leader, Tom Daschle (D-SD) had also been the recipient of a similar terrorist—yes, terrorist—attack (anthrax) in the immediate wake of 9/11, she, somehow, didn’t remember that.
This good and warm-hearted lady didn’t even remember that three people died as a result of the anthrax attack. Is she a monster? Definitely not. Does she care about terrorists attacking fellow citizens of our country? Most definitely yes. Did she simply forget about it? No. Does she have a poor memory? No.
There was no “oh, yeah, that’s right” moment. The Daschle-postal worker anthrax attack simply no longer existed in her memory. No Democrat senate majority leader had been attacked exactly like the Republican one. The memory was blocked because it conflicted with the Big Concept: the Evil Republicans have their hand in everything.
Observing this phenomenon (yet again) reinforced a lesson I’ve tried (and sometimes failed) to keep at the forefront of my own mind when dealing with otherwise fine and intelligent human beings that irrationally—as opposed to rationally—disagree with an opinion of mine.
No matter how valid the reasoning nor how provable the item stated as fact, some people simply will not believe what’s right in front of their eyes if it conflicts with their cherished belief(s). Some will hold onto the block for dear life and attack you as if you’ve struck one of their children; for all intents and purposes, you have.
I’ll keep ‘talking’ about my own opinions, but if another’s reason isn’t more valid than mine, I’m not going to beat my head against a brick wall about it; not anymore. If the reasoning is more valid than mine, however, rest assured: I’ll re-think my position.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.
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