Have you ever wondered how the population of a country can be blind to the horrors it is perpetrating. How did Germans not see? How did the Japanese not see? How did the Americans not see?
WHAT?! Many an American is bristling right now. “WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS, SARA. You take that back!” is being shouted at the computer screen.
But yeah. NOPE. Not taking it back. Because we aren’t the good guys. But the general patriotic rhetoric and feeling about the U.S. by Americans is “We are the heros, the good guys, the knights in shining armor.”
I was 40 before it occurred to me that We Aren’t the Good Guys. And I knew all the bad things before that. But still, it was the unconsidered simplified assumption I had about America so I just reinterpreted the bad stuff, as bad but not really changing the basics – America: Good Guy.
I never challenged Good Guy America because that assumption is fed by lots and lots of rhetoric to make me feel that way. Heck it’s part of the school curriculum. America, we are willing to blow innocent people up with Atomic Weapons but only because WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS. That is the gist of how Hiroshima and Nagasaki were taught to me in school. In fact, right now, someone is thinking about writing a comment about how many lives America saved by doing it. AMERICA, GOOD GUY!
This country has an ugly internal history of violent and horrific bigotry. Consider Slavery, the entire Native American Population, (Trail of Tears is just a high point), Segregation, Immigrant Treatment, and Suffrage. Just to name the big ones. A full 25 volume encyclopedia would be necessary to summarize the various points of injustices done inside this country by its government to the people and the land and the wildlife. But we still internalize the fact that we are a good nation.
The U.S. has spent most of it’s young life being self satisfied at how marvelous we are. Or if we are having a bad hair day we relish how marvelous we WERE and imagine how we can recreate this fantasy land of greatness which we once were.
The human brain is fully capable of seeing a fact and reorganizing it inside the brain to be a good thing. To prop it up against beautiful ideas and honestly believe that despite evidence this viewpoint is reality. It’s the same way people use religion.
If you take a clean objective look at the bible, for example, it’s hard to find a Good Guy God. But you won’t catch Christian Religions calling God anything but Love. Because they believe God is Love, they just re-work all the stories inside their brain to be stories about how much God Loves Us. Our brains work really well at switching that.
Our monkey brains are not clever. They can be easily manipulated to remember things that never happened, to see things that aren’t there, to re-interpret the view to one that fits our current worldview.
We are complacent in our belief that our brains will not be wrong, when in fact they are wrong regularly. And we just ignore it. Like a glitch in the matrix.
Right now Republicans are reworking Trump in their brain. He’s the Republican so he must be worthy is how it’s going to come out for most of them. Because they have the unconsidered assumption that Republicans are Good. Therefore the brain switches to Trump is Good.
We fail when we don’t look carefully at our assumptions. So very many are hidden from us, but they are worthy of a good stare. Because our monkey brains don’t just make assumptions, they make SIMPLIFIED assumptions. So something like being a Republican, which obviously is a complex mess of ideas and concepts, is drilled down to REPUBLICAN. This removes all the nuance and lets our brain make those unwarranted brain switches on someone like Trump.