The fog of war within ourselves and all around us

A long time ago I caught this great film, a documentary, called The Thin Blue Line by Errol Morris. It is the story of a man who was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. The film was haunting. The musical score stayed in your head for days on end and rattled your brain evermore. The man followed by the documentary, Randall Adams was released, I think, about a year after the movie went public at large.


As a psychologist I know very well that eye-witness testimony is extremely fraught and unreliable. The movie just personified, helped embody, that difficult part of our judicial system. I think for the most part individuals out there get this (by now).  So, I am not here to talk about the psychology behind our judicial system.  It is not even jsut solely our judicial system that is impacted by this level of uncertainty surrounding our perceptions-or rather, what we truly think we see and know. Note the film Fog of War. It helped illustrate the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.  Since the release of that film, many have come to understand there are not always clear cut answers out there as we try to address the horrors and multifaceted situations in our world.


This level of uncertainty envelops each individual as well throughout their lives. Sometimes we are crystal clear on what we need to do. Sometimes we are all set on a path we believe we have chosen. Then, nothing is clear and everything becomes foggy.  Should we try to fight that fogginess?


No, we should not always be crystal clear. It is when we are set on a straight path that we believe is right, that we often make mistakes. A lot bit of fog can help motivate one to dig deeper and look further past one’s comfort zone. If one can recognize and accept the fog as a helpful tool. You have to have some tolerance for ambiguity and be able to use that ambiguity to find better answers.


And, I do note that is easier said than done. Tolerance for ambiguity is not always an easy thing for people. As a matter of fact there are some people, like myself, that thrive on it, and there are others that are crippled by it.   I am seeing this firsthand in my field of healthcare.  There is much ambiguity as to what will happen next in terms of health insurance and the future of healthcare provision in general. Some individuals are ready to step up and see what needs to be done. Others are acting as if they are deer caught in the headlights. They are stuck in place.   My job now is to help navigate a steady ship and right it as warranted. I can’t stay in place, however. Admittedly, I am pumped up by this. Odd?  I have to admit, I might otherwise be bored if everything was the “same old, same old.”


While I thrive in such situations, I do recognize that I can’t be taken in by the fog and I must look past all the rhetoric and current cacophony of voices.  A few years back The Thin Blue Line film was parodied in a television series Called Documentary Now! in which the labled the parody episode  “The Eye Doesn’t Lie”.   We have to remember that, indeed, the eye may not always be right. It doesn’t deliberately lie, but it is not on point either. We should take that to heart in terms of it is not just about eyewitness testimony. We have to remain open in our daily interactions.


And that is my motivation for the day.


7 replies »

  1. Hi Mimi, I’m a Mimi, too :). I see ambiguity as an adventure and as a chance to innovate and create opportunities for improvement. It’s all a matter of choosing our approach…it’s all about attitude. Thanks for the post. Many blessings, Karen


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