Believing Your Own Eyes

Because we are silenced by being told that we, ‘don’t understand the complexities’.

Because we are easily knocked back in our forward movement by self-doubt and so, when we are told we don’t understand, we agree – we probably don’t understand.  It would be egotistical to think otherwise.

Because we hear the words ring out at least inside us if not outside – “Who do you think you are?  Don’t you think other people have tried?  Don’t you imagine other people – better than you – have tried and failed?  If they can’t do it, what makes you think you can?”

Because we are taught to be obsessed with outcomes and to only value success not effort and to accept expediency and political corruption as, ‘just the way things are’.

Because we are no longer scientific in our approach and have lost our capacity to experiment and hypothesize and try.

Because of all these factors (and more) we accept what we are told.

The thing is, this potent cocktail that eats at our self-esteem and resigns us to our own uselessness and the hopelessness all around us is more opium of the people than any religion ever could be.

It paralyzes us.  Isolates us between our knowledge of suffering and our certainty that we are too puny to help.

Because if doubt makes action difficult.  Self-doubt can make action impossible.

“As I got out to wait, I looked at the bodies, which seemed relatively fresh.  Just as I glimpsed the body of a child, it moved.  I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination, but I saw the twitching of the child and wanted to help.  I leaned down to pick the child up, and suddenly I was holding a little body that was both tingling and mushy in my hands.  In a second I realized that the movement was not the child but the action of maggots.  I was frozen, not wanting to fling the child away from me but also not wanting to hold it for a second longer.  I managed to set the body down and then stood there, shaky, not wanting to think about what was on my hands…

Rome, Paris, Geneva and New York were still demanding assessment upon assessment  Instead of coming to the aid of roughly two million people, the international community and aid groups were still conducting analyses of what was needed…the new UNREO representative, Charles Petrie…was in despair about the continuous demands for assessments.  I turned to him and said that in his next assessment he could quote me: Tell them to send food, fuel, medical supplies and water for two million people, and we will work out the details of distributing it, but for God’s sake tell them to start sending it!”

A couple of years later I met some of those decision-makers and assessment-demanders, who took the opportunity to tell me I had been looking at the situation in a ‘simplistic fashion.’ “(1)

(1) Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil, pp 401-3

Photograph – Gerhard Sisters,photographer.  Photo shows the famous Apache warrior Geronimo, photographed during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Mo., in 1904. The close-up view of his left eye reveals a reflection of the photographer.


  1. This is a powerful piece and that vivid description of the maggot filled child is haunting. Sadly, many in our world are only interested in hanging out where the popular stories are… Doing the gritty work isn’t important but the photo op afterwards is… Sickening!

    1. I think what I like about Roméo Dallaire is that mostly he’s very matter of fact in his approach – just lays out what happened e.g. incident with maggot-filled child versus being told by the powers-that-be that his approach was too simplistic – he doesn’t bother trying to convince the reader who has the better approach – just points to it and more or less let’s you make up your own mind.

      You also make an excellent point about the photo op approach – unfortunately I think you are right – but just as is the case with our politicians we can start expecting more and better from the media and maybe this will change – Thanks, Elizabeth.

  2. I see you made a site change? I was thinking about you and realized you hadn’t popped up in my reader in a while.

    As always, I loved your post. Self-doubt is such a tricky monster that always manages sneaks up on me whenever I am making real progress in my life. Thanks for reminding me to keep my eyes open.

    1. I did move and I made a mess of the details frankly – thank you for missing me, though, Matt! I am glad you liked the post and found it useful. Thanks again.

      1. I have had problems ever since purchasing my own domain as well. You are the victim of a well named and well written blog, I think of you pretty much daily – whenever the concept of reciprocity enters mt mind.

        1. Matt – how kind you are – however my problems with the domain are due to my own shortcomings mostly! But I very much appreciate your kindness. 🙂

  3. How true it is that as we grow up, we are taught to question our own questions.Kind of brings to my mind the fearless little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes Story!Thanks for this touching post!:)

  4. Many would like to shut their eyes or turn the page when one is told of such tragedy Supporting the charity ‘Children in Need’ I come across many such stories of children’s suffering.. It makes my heart cry.. and I can only admire those who work out on the front lines of such daily horrors.. And take my hat off to those who tell it like it is…

Leave a Reply to creatingreciprocity Cancel reply