know your blindspot?

“We all have blind spots in our knowledge and opinions. The bad news is that they can leave us blind to our blindness, which gives us false confidence in our judgment and prevents us from rethinking. The good news is that with the right kind of confidence, we can learn to see ourselves more clearly and update our views. In driver’s training we were taught to identify our visual blind spots and eliminate them with the help of mirrors and sensors. In life, since our minds don’t come equipped with those tools, we need to learn to recognize our cognitive blind spots and revise our thinking accordingly.” ― Adam M. Grant in “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know”

One of the challenges of current day culture is the ease we feel in identifying the blindspots of other people while simultaneously being comfortably oblivious of our own. 

A blindspot, put as simply as possible, is an area unable to be seen.

The inconvenient truth is that we all have them. Even though, yes, oft comfortably oblivious. 

I appreciated the written words last week by self-described progressive, Nicholas Kristof. Kristof is an influential columnist for The New York Times, a frequent CNN contributor, and a one-time, would-be, Oregon gubernatorial candidate. He typically articulates his opinions respectfully.

Last week Kristof wrote a column last about poverty and inequality — two issues he is notably passionate about. The column was entitled “The One Privilege Liberals Ignore.” Let us not fall prey to throwing stones in regard to who ignores what; let’s examine Kristof’s main point: “We can’t have a serious conversation about poverty and inequality without contemplating the breakdown of marriage and family.”

The breakdown is the blindspot.

“We are often reluctant to acknowledge one of the significant drivers of child poverty — the widespread breakdown of family — for fear that to do so would be patronizing or racist.”

Substantiating his point, Kristof continued: “It’s an issue largely for working-class Whites, Blacks and Hispanics, albeit most prevalent among African Americans. But just as you can’t have a serious conversation about poverty without discussing race, you also can’t engage unless you consider single-parent households… Families headed by single mothers are five times as likely to live in poverty as married-couple families. Children in single-mother homes are less likely to graduate from high school or earn a college degree. They are more likely to become single parents themselves, perpetuating the cycle.”

Citing the research of University of Maryland economist Melissa Kearney, Kristof averred, “Two-parent families are beneficial for children. Places that have more two-parent families have higher rates of upward mobility. Not talking about these facts is counterproductive.”

Friends, let there be no judgment for the ones who circumstances are different than the two-parent traditional household. None whatsoever. Some of my hardest-working, most diligent friends are single moms. Without a doubt, such person’s families can still thrive and survive. The data simply shows the clear benefit of the family staying in tact. My primary point today is that marriage and family matter. Significantly.

My secondary point is the acknowledgement of blindspot — how there are things we simply can’t see. Again, no need to pick on progressives; conservatives too comfortably take their routine turn. The blindspot cited by Kristof is the unwillingness to even acknowledge the impact the breakdown of family has on poverty and inequality. “Even today there is a deep discomfort in liberal circles about acknowledging these realities.” Kristof then references an upcoming report by the Institute for Family Studies noting that “only 30 percent of college-educated liberals agree” that children are better off having married parents.

We all have blindspots, friends… areas that we simply cannot see. Hence, perhaps the bigger question is: why?

What blinds us?

Our passion? Conviction? What is it?

And why do we ignore what’s true? How is it that we don’t even know we’re ignoring it?

Three years ago Kristof penned a different piece, albeit also about watching our blindspots. Near the end of his submission, he wrote this: “As a liberal, I mostly write about conservative blind spots. But on the left as well as the right, we can get so caught up in our narratives that we lose perspective; nobody has a monopoly on truth.”

That’s the challenge; is it not?

Our blindspots diminish the validity of our perspective. We then miss what may be true.