Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes
Did you ever see the experiment a teacher named Jane Elliott did in the late 60’s with her classroom of third graders? She split the room up into two groups: children with blue/green eyes and children with brown eyes, and made the brown eyed children wear paper collars. The blue eyed children were told they were smarter, nicer and better than the brown eyed children and they were given extra privileges. They were told not to play with the brown eyed children.
Within just a few minutes Jane saw a change in the children. The blue eyed kids were now turning against brown eyed kids who had been their best friends minutes before. They wouldn’t talk to them on the playground. They called them names. “Students who had been sweet and tolerant before the exercise – became mean-spirited and seemed to like discriminating against the “inferior” group.” Elliot says, “I watched what had been marvelous, cooperative, wonderful, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders in a space of fifteen minutes.” On the second day it was the brown eyed children that became special and the blue eyed kids wore the collar and were treated like they were inferior. Watch it on this short video.
After her schoolroom experiment Jane said “The kids said over and over, ‘We’re kind of like family now.’ They found out how to hurt one another and they found out how it feels to be hurt in that way and they refuse to hurt one another in that way again.”
I had a chiropractor appointment yesterday for an arm I injured chasing a chicken out of my garden. I now have a new chiropractor, because the one I have been going to for 13 yrs. has just moved out of state, because our state required all healthcare practitioners to be v…ed. Many of the people in the office are new as well, because the workers they replaced chose to leave their jobs rather than submit to this medical procedure.
Thinking about the situation in this country and around the world I was reminded of Jane Elliot’s experiment. Instead of Blue eyes and Brown eyes, we are now the V…ed and the Un-v…ed. The news media and government officials have done to us what Jane did to her third-graders back in the 60’s – convinced one group of us that they are better and smarter and nicer than the other group. Except this experiment has gone on many months and has turned life-long friends and family members against one another, and ruined careers and utterly changed lives. As happened in Jane’s experiment intelligent, thoughtful, kind and caring humans have turned into “nasty, vicious, discriminating” humans toward one group of people, based on nothing more than their choice of whether to use a medical procedure or not.
It has been an appalling thing to watch and to experience over these last months. It also made me realize how easy it was for the people of Europe to slide into this sort of place during the War – turning a group of fellow citizens into the Brown Eyes of that day.
In case you wonder why I am using abbreviations for commonly used words, it’s because something that feels even more frightening is happening in this country today. We are being censored. We are being told that if we have differing ideas or opinions or beliefs about certain subjects we are not allowed to write about them and publish them. The last thing I wrote was deleted from my social media feed within a couple hours. Differing ideas are now called “mis-information” and deleted. I am 82 – and I have never seen this sort of rampant and socially accepted and encouraged censorship before. We have reached an interesting stage in this social experiment called Democracy, when we as a society become willing to force medical procedures on a large group of our fellow citizens against their will, and willingly censor differing opinions about those procedures – even if they come from the scientific and medical community.
I chose to speak out at one point and was immediately shut down. I have stayed silent since then – and do not feel good about that silence. I am reminded too often of all the times humans stood by mutely when atrocities were committed, afraid to speak out for fear of what their fellow humans would do to them. But it hurts to stay silent against these things.
I am fine. I am an old woman, and my livelihood does not depend on those sorts of choices. I have a loving community of family and friends. This isn’t true for many of the people being effected by the wave of discrimination and censorship going on in this country today. I don’t know if my words will change any minds or hearts, or at least make someone stop and think when they are about to do something that supports these things, but I feel I must at least make the attempt.
Just as Jane in her classroom experiment convinced the blue eyed kids that the brown eyed kids were not as smart or kind or good as they were, we are now being taught that one group of people is inferior to the rest. The companies manufacturing the products being used have a great deal to gain from creating a situation where everyone on the planet is forced – by peer pressure – to follow a single course of action. Those who resist have nothing to gain through their resistance to it – and a great deal to lose.
We do not have the advantage of “trading places” like Jane’s students, so that we can see how it feels to be the “other” at this moment in time. I’m hoping that plain human empathy and compassion will somehow surface in enough of us to cry “stop!”. Stop this insanity before we destroy any more lives or hurt any more innocent people…..