What Are You Pretending Not to Know? 714.4

On a bitter-cold night, a Russian countess was taken to a play in a horse-drawn carriage. Upon arrival, she ordered the driver and footman to wait outside with the carriage in case she wanted to leave early. The play included several emotional scenes, and she was sobbing when she exited the theater and found a small crowd gathered around her carriage. She demanded to know what was going on, and the driver fearfully told her that the old footman froze to death.

So, how could a woman sensitive enough to cry at the plight of fictional characters be so callous about the comfort and health of her own servants?

It’s called “willful blindness,” a defense mechanism allowing folks to see only what they want to see.

I saw a cartoon once that captured the essence of this point: A half-dozen executives are sitting around a conference table, and the chairman announces, “Miss Harris will now hand out the moral blinders.”

The key question is: What are we pretending not to know?

Are there things about nuclear power plants and their ability to survive natural calamities we are pretending not to know?

Are some school administrators willfully pretending not to know about irresponsible teachers or abusive coaches?

We all have moral blind spots. The challenge is to have the humility to find them and the character to fix them.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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