What is Willful Blindness vs What is a Whistle-blower?

Book cover, "Willful Blindness - Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril" by  Margaret Heffernan.

Book cover, “Willful Blindness – Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril” by Margaret Heffernan.

Dear Readers!

Margaret Heffernan is a career entrepreneur and student of what makes successful community. Her  focus is in the business world but she explores vibrant workplace by asking questions about universal human behavior. She  presents her findings in her book, “Willful Blindness” and highlights key points in the video below.

What is it that causes us humans (in the workplace and elsewhere) to ignore, ‘not see’, or ‘excuse away’ problems that need attention?

A Montana woman with no formal credentials, but with a questioning and analytical mind, notices lung health debilitation among adults in her small community. She eventually recognizes the town’s industry, vermiculite (a form of asbestos), is responsible. Her community of 15,000 actively rejects her conclusions, takes offense.

What IS ‘willful blindness’? How influential is it in our lives and choices – as individuals, as families, at the workplace, and in our civic/political activities? (According to Heffernan, eighty-five percent will recognize a problem and say nothing.  This statistical average of willful blindness holds across the world in different nations.)

At about 8:30 minutes into her15 minute talk, Heffernan specifically shifts to whistle-blowers. She describes what she’s learned of whistle-blower motivations by seeking them out to speak with them. She describes situations that resulted in each becoming a whistle-blower. She quotes them, and offers these observations::

“The reason they speak up, the reason they insist on seeing, is because they care so much.”

These are people of immense persistence, incredible patience, and an absolute determination not to be blind and not to be silent.

Margaret Heffernan, “Willful Blindness”, TEDxDanubia Talk; 15 minutes:

My Best to All of Us -MaggieAnn


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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3 Responses to What is Willful Blindness vs What is a Whistle-blower?

  1. Vicki says:

    She blew my socks off!

    • maggieannthoeni says:

      Me too! Brief – to the point – great story telling, and her description of willful blindness and whistle blowers so well summarized! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Pingback: Taming the Wild Ox – Local to Global | Thoughts From The Well

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