The “blind spot” metaphor is ubiquitous to the point that we hear it with a yawn. But my accident reminded me that, while the familiarity of the metaphor may dull its impact, it is a powerful hidden factor of everyday life. Whether one is driving, theologizing, or debating social issues and public policy, blind spots are pervasive and dangerous. We are often too lazy to crank our necks for the full truth. It’s easier to keep looking ahead and assume all is well. It seems easier—until we crash.
Ignoring our blind spots can be deeply injurious to us to and to others, often resulting in far worse than superficial cosmetic damage. The dismal record, both past and present, of human discord, violence, subjugation, and oppression results in part from massive “blind spots” in our understanding of ourselves as human beings and in our behavior toward others. We are naïve—but culpably so—to the ways in which cultural, ideological, and religious forces invisibly (or subconsciously) shape and mold our interpretations and actions. ¶ More perniciously still, many remain blissfully ignorant of the extent to which power and privilege constitute potent forces in our public discourse. These “invisible” forces of power and privilege are often painfully visible to minorities and marginalized persons—those who “see” (or feel) them simply because they don’t have the option to ignore them. “Harmless” blind spots for those of us with privilege and power can be constantly damaging collisions for others.