Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes…

October Asters

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…..

6 comments

  1. I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness and it’s so nice to know that there’s someone else saying the exact same thing as me. Everybody needs to stay in their own lane, mind their own business, and live and let live.

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    • Hi Debbi! How nice to hear from you…. I wonder how many folks feel as we do and just are keeping to themselves… not wanting to make waves.. I am a Charles Eisenstein fan and he has been the voice crying out in the wilderness – so courageously – saying it’s time to speak out…. we can’t keep silent anymore… and I agree.

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  2. I wonder if we can get to 85% of the public vaccinated or infected to stop the pandemic. That is the real herd immunity number. I don’t know if mandates are a good idea or not. I don’t know if I’ll be exposed any time I go out.

    There is so much I do not know. But I sure wish we could still stop this virus from becoming endemic. And it’s sad for all of us that it hasn’t yet just faded away. It would be so nice if things didn’t have to keep shutting down as we have outbreaks.

    I do think it is interesting that people are moving to the states that most support their beliefs. I’ve had two friends move out of Texas this year. The “Big Sort” in this country continues. And I do not know where that will lead either.

    We went to CJ’s surgeon a few weeks ago and he came into the exam room without his mask on. He said, “we don’t need those in here,” and I had to explain to this doctor that I have smoldering multiple myeloma and am immune impaired. He put his mask back on, but research shows the aerosol stays in the room for hours…

    It is such a hard time for all of us. I think the doctor was trying to be jovial. I hope I wasn’t rude. And people think badly of others without thinking about the different stressors each of us are under. Perhaps it’s time to just care more. Perhaps this is a time where we learn kindness.

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    • I know this is a scary time for people like you with such serious health issues. I don’t know if you have heard any of what Zach Bush, MD has had to say – but it’s possible you might find him interesting and helpful. https://zachbushmd.com/ I believe as you said that this is a time for us to reconnect with our innate kindness and compassion for people wherever they are with all this. People on both sides of these issues are scared, so it truly behooves us to have compassion for each other. The way we get through this in any sort of “whole” way is together… 🙂

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      • Thanks for the link, Barb, I look forward to reviewing it. And thanks for talking about how easy it is for us to label anybody as “other.”

        I may be more at risk, but I’m not scared, not living in fear, just cognizant of the very real personal risks and taking very few chances. I like to joke that I’m not “going to die from being stupid,” but I only say that to myself and people who know me well. I realize in this climate even that statement could be misunderstood. I apply it only to me.

        It takes lots of careful communication in times like these.

        I’m also thinking that when we really listen there are far more than two sides to any issue, there are many experiences and understandings. And that is why I think that being kind, being friendly, generous and caring with those we agree and disagree with in all our communication may be the only way to get out of the divisiveness. So much is out of our control now, as it always is in chaotic times. We all prefer stability, we want to get back to a normal state, but that is not the times we are living in. Taking extra care to be kind is contagious, and it’s a health-giving practice to those who make it a practice. I think it keeps many sane right now.

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  3. One of the things I have really come to understand is that we are not going to “get back to a normal state”, and if we are brave and honest we realize that the “normal” we were living in was truly not something we want to sustain. We are trashing the planet and the creatures we share it with, as well as each other. We live in a broken, un-sustainable world that we MUST change or we all go down with the ship. I feel we are being given a brilliant opportunity to wake up and look at how we are living and how we are treating each other and the planet and CHANGE it.
    I just watched a video done early on in 2020 that talked about how amazingly capable we humans are on the planet of utterly CHANGING how we live – immediately! We all made some really huge changes in early 2020. It was not pleasant or easy, but it gave us a chance to stop our mad rush forward and look at how we are living, and many have seen that they do not want to go back to where they were before covid! People are changing direction – in very positive ways.
    We even gave the earth a chance to heal a bit – got to see how little it took for it to rebound in truly surprising ways! We discovered our connection to Nature again – or maybe for the first time for some… because it was the only place you could go for a time.
    I see so much good coming out of this pandemic, not the least of which is our realization, in odd little ways, of how much we NEED each other to survive. How valuable we ALL are. I have great hope and optimism for our future.

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