Why Does Hindsight Always Have 20/20 Vision?

While listening to the United States Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing and the questioning of ex-FBI Director James Comey, it came to me that both he and President Trump now have reflected on their conversations and other interactions.  Most likely, they both fully agree with the old adage, “Hindsight is 20/20″.

That is indeed true, and no greater proof exists with the events that led up to this hearing…. other than my own life decisions. Undoubtedly, we all can relate. If we could address our younger selves or maybe the person that we were yesterday, we may have made so many different decisions. But, that is life, and that is living and learning. Fortunately,  most of our decisions, choices, judgments, actions, and perspectives weren’t terribly life-altering-at least not to the point of no return. Not everyone can say that, though.

What about the police officer[s] who shot and killed an unarmed or innocent person, suspect or bystander? I am certain that the officers who mercilessly beat Rodney King, those years ago, would not have made the decisions in that moment. I can go on and on. Personally, I wrestle with my own life choices and wonder what might have been had I taken a different path back then. Where would I be, my children, my career, my life?

But, in the heat of the moment, or in the midst of  a situation, it is extremely difficult to think past the immediate, albeit not impossible. As individuals, we are a combination of nature versus nurture, and often, nurture wins out. We operate from a position impacted and influenced by our own capacity, experience and the environment. Basically, everything we have learned thus far, everyone with whom we have interacted, everywhere we have ever gone, and everything we believe about ourselves and life all can be trumped in the heat of the moment. Or, our can be confirmed.

We are products of the environment, which includes our upbringing, what we live, whom we loved, and how our brains process it all can be unpredictable at times of stressful circumstances and moments of uncertainty. We mustn’t omit the biological processes, the physiology, like the adrenalin flowing through our bodies when anxious, upset, or excited. Even ‘training’ can exit the window.

Our personal convictions which may dictate complete honesty to ourselves and others, will confound us at times. We say that honesty is the best policy but does that imply that we be explicitly honest to others? Or does it also mean that we must be honest with others, not by ‘brutal’ honesty, but by omission, or what we carefully choose to say?

You know the times when your friend asks you, How does this dress look on me?”, and you respond ” Well, it is certainly interesting!” Now, you know that you think the dress is absolutely hideous, but instead of being direct and being boldly honest, you say, ‘interesting’. Yes, it is interesting, but because it is apparent that she really loves this dress, and you don’t want to hurt her feelings by being brutally honest. Is that honesty, really? Is it that you also don’t want her to ‘go off’ on you, because you know what that looks like? It wouldn’t be pretty.

Today, I also heard of this student who, because of sports, wore ‘blackface’ in school, and caused a huge stir. Well, because the past is not taught or fully explored in schools, this young man had no idea[?] of the deeper meaning, the symbolism of blackface, he wanted only to display his eagerness for and loyalty for the game. He probably didn’t know that there is a strong history and dark past associated with such displays by whites in this country. It represented a time when black people were used as amusement for whites, the butt of jokes, not taken seriously and names like Al Jolson mimicked African-Americans on stage in theaters around the country.

This young man demonstrated the dangers of not teaching history in its full regalia, and the product of the ignorance of American youth in regards to our own history of racism and inequality perpetuated by the dominant culture was to maintain wealth, power and the comforts of privilege and entitlement through the demonization and alleged inferiority of a group of people whom were enslaved and unfairly exploited for the comforts afforded to whites via free labor.

A clear result of negligent instructional design, meant to maintain the status quo and limit questioning by children who simply need to know the real truth and origins of this ever-present racial divide. Children need to know from whence the attitudes of their parents originated and why. More than this, children need to know how, the methodology, racism was spread and persisted to live within the subconscious of both black and white minds for generations. Children need to know while they interact with diversity everyday through many online forums, implicit bias still exists and the irony is that these digital natives may be unaware that the very people they learn to resent, may be those whom they enjoy digital repartee on a daily basis.

So, if we could do anything differently than yesterday, because hindsight is 20/20, what would we do differently? What decisions would we not have made? If any of these examples come close to being on your list[and there is surely a list], wouldn’t these life-altering choices be among them? If so, it is not too late to admit they were made, and begin the process of making right the many wrongs in life. When we fail to know and understand our history, our past, we are doomed to repeat it. But, do we want to weigh our children and their children with the burdens borne of those decisions? Out of our failures, we can experience successes, and from successes, we can build upon them to experience greater successes. Live, learn , reflect and proceed-wiser, better, stronger, kinder, gentler, and more respectful of the value of life. Hindsight always has 20/20 vision!



1 thought on “Why Does Hindsight Always Have 20/20 Vision?

  1. I had a similar experience with “blackface” @ my children’s school they were hosting a living history museum. One of the students dressed up as Sonjourner Truth and put on Brown make up over her white skin. The teachers didn’t understand hour Todd could, be offensive. I talked with the principal and shared my concerns. I was encouraged by his willingness to respond and learn. But it was disheartening that those teaching history had no idea of how this could be offensive. It was a good, learning experience to increase sensitivity and educate for school. And they were receptive. It’s so important that we supplement what our children are learning and challenge our schools to be inclusive.


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