Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in. ~Alan Alda~
This post is a week late, but I wanted to share with you nonetheless. It seems that the hours are getting away from me these days. Do you find that too?
Anyhoo, last week I was listening to a local morning show on my drive to the gym, and the hosts were talking about a memorable moment in history. On October 30th in 1938, Orson Welles caused panic across a nation with his broadcast of “War of the Worlds“—a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth.
According to History.com, the show proceeded, as if breaking news just came in from one of their field reporters. Here’s a snippet of how the show played out:
“Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian emerging from a large metallic cylinder. “Good heavens,” he declared, “something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here’s another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me … I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it… it … ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”
The Martians mounted walking war machines and fired “heat-ray” weapons at the puny humans gathered around the crash site. They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas into the air. Soon “Martian cylinders” landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers and other characters. An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee. In fact, that was not far from the truth.
Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!” “
Seventy Five Years later, we smile as we listen to how gullible and naïve people were back in the day. But truly, how much have we changed?
Sure, we are so connected globally. We can search for anything happening around the world with our phones. We can follow events as they happen via Twitter, and text from the bathroom, though I am not sure how hygienic that practice really is and would not recommend it. And technology keeps advancing by the minute.
But truly, are we any different?
We believe that we can lose twenty pounds and eleven inches in thirty days by using this never before discovered secret formula from a plant in the Amazon. No exercise required.
We click on a link in the hopes of becoming millionaires because someone photo shopped a picture of Bill Gates indicating he wants to give you money.. We “click here” to win a free iPad, and we pass along a scripted message about Facebook privacy settings without ever actually going to the help section of Facebook to read about their actual privacy rules for our accounts.
We, depending on our political affiliation, listen to one news channel or another, so we are spoon fed what we want to hear. We dismiss the “others” as spin, instead of digging deeper and finding that the truth usually lies somewhere right in the middle.
And, if we look a little deeper, what other assumptions are we making? What are we taking at face value without really taking the time to find out the truth? Are we making assumptions about people because they look different, speak a new language, believe different things, practice different religions, live in different neighborhoods or decide to live outside the lines? Do we assume that all inhabitants of a particular geographical location are painted with the same brush because they live in relative proximity to one another?
I guess this anniversary got me thinking and wondering about just how much we’ve changed, or how much we’ve stayed the same.
So, this week, I am choosing to dig deeper for the truth, to seek knowledge about the things I do not understand. And, if I must assume, I am going to assume the best about something or someone until I have all the facts.
We use fear of the unknown to divide ourselves, and we will never attain the peace we all talk about until we learn that those fears are not always accurate. Are there bad people in this world? Absolutely and unfortunately….there is indeed. But do we need to blanket the world with fear until we all stand alone? No. We need to have the courage to dig deeper and find the truth, even if it scares us. Even if it means we feel exposed and vulnerable, stepping outside of our comfort zones to seek the truth.
Radio listeners in 1938 made the mistake of assuming.
75 years later, shouldn’t we make the effort to advance as much as our technology?
Let me know if you see any little green men,