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Monday, December 3, 2012

Turning a blind eye

Turning a blind eye

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Turning a blind eye is an idiom describing the ignoring of undesirable information.
The phrase to turn a blind eye is attributed to an incident in the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Nelson was blinded in one eye early in his Royal Navy career. In 1801, during the Battle of Copenhagen cautious Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, in overall command of the British forces, sent a signal to Nelson's forces giving him discretion to withdraw. Naval orders were transmitted via a system of signal flags at that time. When this order was given to the more aggressive Nelson's attention, he lifted his telescope up to his blind eye, said "I really do not see the signal", and his forces continued to press home the attack.[1][2]
Despite the popular belief that he was disobeying orders, the signal gave Nelson permission to withdraw at his discretion. Even at the time, some of the people on his ship may have believed otherwise as they were unaware of the exact content of the signal.

This idiom came to my mind recently in reference to a local reporter who died in a house fire recently.  His 24 year old son also perished when he entered the house in an attempt to save his father.

The father was my favorite columnist in our local daily paper.  As soon as I read the first few words I could identify his writing.  He was great at doing character sketches of people in our county and state.  Many he new from childhood others he just met. 

Through the years of reading him I began to "see" he was an alcoholic in my not very humble opinion.  He'd write about falling over things after having a few bottles of wine, of not going to a wedding he went to Charleston to go to stay in the hotel and drink.  Red flags flying.  Then one of his sons died after being crashing his truck while driving drunk and and another was in rehab for alcohol.  The writer and his wife were divorced but on good terms.  I just wonder if anyone confronted him about his drinking?  He was a gentle, kind fellow evidently but alcohol doesn't choose it's addicts. 

I know there have been many times in my life I have turned a blind eye.  I've mixed up kindness with silence and talking with helping.

I'm reading a new book by  Anne Lamott  called Thanks, Help, Wow.  These are her three categories of prayers.  She is a recovering alcoholic who knows what it is to try to hang onto God, sobriety and sanity.  Right now I want to pray "Thanks God" for keeping me from the slippery slope of alcoholism, "Help" me and others who are so inclined and/or genetically disposed.  It's a great little book with a lot of hard won wisdom and I truly laughed out loud many times.  Rated F= for fundamentalists who like to have fun.

1 comment:

linpoq said...

Just added this book to my Kindle list!