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  • Janyne McConnaughey, PhD

The Children are Watching

Once upon a time, in a land very, very near there was a kingdom with people who only had one eye. No one was exactly sure why the people in the kingdom only had one eye, but it had been that way for some time and unless the people left the walled kingdom in which they lived, they never knew that there were others who still had two eyes.

Having one eye didn’t seem to be a problem most of the time, but it was limiting because each person chose the one thing they wanted to see and once they did, that became the only thing they could see. They then began to seek out those who could only see what they saw and gathered together in one-eyed harmony.

The memory of when people in the kingdom had two eyes slowly faded. The two–eyed skill of being able to use one eye to look at what they felt was most important, while seeing what others thought was important became a dim memory. Tragically, once they were blind to what others were seeing, they began to scoff and ridicule them for seeing something different.

Those who had lived long enough to remember when people had two eyes were filled with sadness as they watched the arguments. Even though they only had one eye and could only see one thing, they did recognize that what someone else was seeing was not what they were seeing. Sometimes they would ask the other to explain what they were seeing. It was the most remarkable experience.

“Oh, I see what you are seeing!” the one would say to the other. “I don’t see it, but I understand we were seeing two different things. It is OK to see different things isn’t it?”

Sometimes the other would agree and they would link arms and go for a walk. This was truly remarkable because together it was as if they had two eyes again.

“Oh, I can see what you are seeing through your eye!” one would say. The other would agree and say, “Me too!” Since they still had two mouths they could each talk about the thing that was most important to them, but see the other’s view at the same time.

As they walked around the kingdom, many were suspicious of them. Those who saw what one was seeing couldn’t understand why they would be willing to link arms with someone who saw something different. The two tried to explain that if others would link arms with each other, they would also be able to see as a two-eyed person again. Some listened, but many had their arms too tightly folded across their chests to link arms with another. Without being able to see through another’s eye they only saw one thing and very sadly, some yelled insults into the air at the others who saw something different.

Slowly, more and more one-eyed people began to have conversations with each other and decided to link arms. When they realized they had been arguing about two completely different things, little epiphany bubbles would explode out of the top of their heads, right above their one eye.

“Oh! I thought you were saying this, but you weren’t were you? You were talking about something completely different! I thought you didn’t believe what I thought was important mattered, but that wasn’t what you were saying at all! Just because we think something is the most important thing, doesn’t mean we can’t also see the importance of what someone else is seeing.”

Many began to realize they could find value in another one-eyed person who saw something completely different. As they began to tell their stories to each other, it became clear why each one had decided on his or her ‘most important thing.’ The choice was embedded in experience and the stories were never identical. Yet, as the stories were shared, there was always something . . . some common emotion, feeling, or experience that caused them to link arms more tightly. As more and more linked arms, the whole richness of the human experience and the value of each person began to be understood. There was truly more to experience than one eye could see by itself.

All the while, the children were watching. They still had the capacity to develop two eyes, but they needed to understand what it would feel like. It seemed as if what was happening between the adults didn’t matter to them as they skipped and ran around those who had linked arms and listened to the words in the air; but it did matter. If not forbidden from seeing two things at the same time, they still had the capacity to have two eyes and change the kingdom. They were watching and learning what being human looked like. Only by linking arms could the one-eyed adults ever hope to help the kingdom to once again be filled with two-eyed people.

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