Life is funny sometimes; even doing something as simple as teaching a basic self-defense class, you gain some fascinating knowledge.
Corneal abrasions, for example.
There I was in class, with a student willing to help me demonstrate how to evade a frontal choke attack and inflict damage at the same time. Lo and behold, I ask him to simulate choking me, demonstrating a one handed choke hold; and when I go to defend against his attack, I run smack into an extra hand that I didn't expect to be there. Needless to say, my 'attacker' gouged me in the right eye with said unexpected hand. One hard lesson learned - but I also proved that attacking an aggressor's eyes would be very effective.
But I digress; it was during the treatment of my lovely new injury that I learned some things about the human eye.
I went to see a doctor a few hours after the incident. I finished the class with just a real watery eye, and a less than assuring drive home from the class. But I went to the doctor, as my vision and pain both continued to worsen. The doc had some good news, and some not so good news. First, she numbed the eyeball up, and used a black light to assess the damage. Then she opened her eyes wide and exclaimed, "Wow! He gotcha good!"
She told me that I had a pretty significant 'corneal abrasion.' She went on to tell me that the only thing she could do was prescribe an antibiotic ointment, and she highly recommended me to protect the eye at all costs; keep things out of it, don't rub it; that kind of thing. I followed her instructions, stayed out of work for one day, and for safe measure, made an extra appointment with an ophthalmologist. The eye doctor visit was my first time seeing the ol' eye doctor. And he enlightened me with a plethora of info on the human eye.
He told me that it turns out, the eye doesn't heal like other parts of our body. When we think of scratches, or 'abrasions', or cuts, we think of the skin. Our skin tends to bleed, and forms a scab over the injury. He went on to tell me that the eye's healing was totally different. He compared the cornea of the eye to a layer of sod. He told me that sod tends to grow in quickly, because the roots of grass move and spread outward, and the squares pull themselves together and grow into one another. But he said if the roots don't have a chance to grow down, the sod square can still be easily damaged. He said the eye is similar. He said instead of scabbing over, the cornea's cells come together fairly quickly. The outer appearance of the eye doesn't take long to heal. But if something happens to that outer layer before cells regenerate at deeper layers, the vision and eye can be re-injured easily. I found this absolutely amazing.
And my eye has since healed. And my vision has slowly but surely been restored. The pain - is gone.
Of course, I thought about how this could relate to current events, the political climate of the world, and even the fate of humanity.
Shocker - I know.
But follow me here. What if the problems we see across our country - or the world for that matter - are all because we've suffered a scratch to our metaphorical eyeball?
And what caused these scratches?
To address both these questions, let me tell you a little more about my seemingly superficial injury. I must say, I've really taken my vision and my eyes for granted most of my life... until this injury.
When my eye was scratched by a stranger's finger (perhaps fingernail), my vision was immediately and briefly incapacitated. For two minutes or so, I couldn't demonstrate anything; I couldn't see anything, and my eye started to water. I even reflexively held my hand up around my eye to protect it. As I tried to fight through the temporary incapacity, I had to focus more with the other eye. I had to compensate by adjusting how I set up every movement and demonstration I set up after that. By the time I had to drive home, and being too stubborn to interrupt my wife or my son and their plans, I drove home with sunglasses (the bright sun was way too bright for the injured eye), and a hard squint all the way home. I sat at home, and my vision got worse, and worse. If I turned to look at one of the dogs, or my wife, or if my eyeball moved even a fraction of an inch, once again, a hand reflexively shot up, and I shuddered in pain.
I couldn't help but think to myself, Good grief, the dude only poked me in the eye!
So how has this happened in America?
In a word... selfishness.
Let's just say, in my opinion, we as citizens of this great big world, have mistaken the awesome concept of FREEDOM, and got hit right in the eye by a hand we didn't expect. It's because we have gotten wrapped up in that word freedom, or even liberty, and focused on the word, with the wrong expectation.
Somewhere along the way, words like that have come to mean being free to do what we want; being free from responsibility; being free from being offended by - wait for it - someone who might not AGREE WITH US!
When our founding fathers started this great nation, they wanted people to experience freedom and liberty - but although those words do include oneself... they do not pertain to only oneself. We must, as the cliche bumper sticker says, coexist in this giant melting pot. Therefore, while our freedom should allow us freedom to choose our path and how we pursue happiness, we must consider how our pursuits can influence or impact others around us. But society in America, and around the world, has fallen victim to the worship of self; the ultimate fulfillment of self; the glorification of self. And it's a shame, because at one time, America was seen as a light for the world. At one time, especially right after World War Two, and even some periods before AND after that, many other nations looked to us for inspiration and hope.
Let's face it; America brought us the assembly line for the industrial world. America brought us radio, the way we know it and love it today. America brought us the television, and movies, and rock and roll. America gave us cheeseburgers, and professional sports like the world had never seen, and comic book superheroes; American icons like Martin Luther King Jr, and Muhammad Ali, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and country music. America brought us ministries and charities to the rest of the world that probably influenced and saved more lives than most other times in history. The needy were clothed and fed like never before; Billy Graham spread the gospel; at one point we were top in the world in education. Muscle cars filled the city background noise, and America reached the moon! This country was really going strong, and we were on top of our game.
But what the heck happened? If you look at us now; if the world looks at us now - we seem to be floundering around like someone caught us in the corner of our eye with their thumb. Now we have our hand over our eye, and we can't seem to show how it's done for the moment.
So how do we fix this?
Go back and read what I said about freedom. It turns out, in America's prime, which has come in waves, certain things were happening that kept our eyes focused on what we needed to be focused on. People were still free to pursue happiness, defend their lives, and live their lives freely - but the focus was caring for others, and caring for family, and holding tight to family if at all possible. And one of the things that made that a little easier...was when families tried to stay centered on God. Look at the things America was doing when things were at their best.
We enter the war, though probably from a political perspective, for ulterior motives, but suddenly we are able to put men and women back to work, fill bank accounts enough to put food on the table, and save the European Jewish people all at once. Families were for the most part, traditional nuclear families: Mom and Dad, big brother, big sister, and junior.
Prayer was allowed in schools, the government didn't quite fully control education yet, evolution wasn't crammed down everyone's throat as if it is God's only truth, children weren't just spoon-fed their future and kids were motivated to grow up and actually be somebody. Billy Graham and the Gideons were putting Bibles in hotels all over the world. Church on Sunday wasn't exactly frowned upon, and homosexuality, though something that was very real, just wasn't the focus of anything; people were learning to accept differences with bumps and bruises along the way, and Dr. King helped white people see where they'd gotten a lot of things wrong through the years anyway. But there were more wholesome values that were embraced by the common citizen, and someone with a difference of opinion wasn't suddenly hated just because they had a different opinion. And we were all taught a little more about putting others above self. You know; that Kennedy guy ("Ask not what your country can do..." - ring a bell?)
So how do we heal the apparent abrasion to our eye, where all the eye tissue and cells have scattered, and vision is blurry, and we just can't seem to get it together? How do we fix SOOOOOO many of the divisions that have formed in this country; in this world?
What if we focus on the right thing, and know what to expect when it is the CORRECT focus?
In my opinion we need to turn as a nation, back to God. If we can't turn back as a whole nation, perhaps we can at least not denounce Him; perhaps we can accept each other's differences and still try to go back and embrace common decency and morals. Perhaps we can learn to live freely, but not mistake freedom for anarchy and the chaos that comes with a universal free-for-all attitude. Perhaps instead of trying to overcompensate because an individual finds themselves to be unique, we learn to teach individuals to be just that - unique, and individual - and stop trying to come down on other people who aren't overcompensating and who don't feel like they must join this 'club' or that club. Perhaps we can learn, to treat others, how we would want to be treated. Yes, that is what Jesus taught. And believe in Him or not - how can anyone disagree with that principle?
Perhaps, if we learn from history, and all the good things we've accomplished, and not focus on all the bad things that happened, and name call, and insult, and tweet about this or that - then we can start to heal from our abrasion.
And once we regain that focus... maybe we can finally start to have a good, clear vision once again.
And it turns out, there's a great figure in history who told us all how to one day encounter a time and era where there'd be no more pain, either...........but that, as they say, is another story.