Wednesday, October 5, 2016

“Use It or Lose It”

I read a story a long time ago about how fish in the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky go blind because they have lived in the waters of the deep recesses of the cave where it is completely dark.  Scientists have studied this phenomenon and discovered that the structure of the eye of these fish is perfect, but the optic nerve is a shriveled thread.  Having eyes, they cannot see.  The eye can no longer carry the impulse of light and communicate it to the brain.  The law of atrophy has been at work, the law by which the misuse or disuse of a faculty leads to the loss of that faculty!  The phrase, “Use it or lose it” applies.  

Now a fish has no power of choice.  As far as I know a fish cannot think.  But suppose that the fish swimming in the dark waters of the cave had the power to choose and that some deliberately chose to swim only in the dark water.  Choosing darkness, the fish, after a while, would no longer be able to distinguish between darkness and light.  If it swam out of the dark waters of the cave into the light, it would call it darkness.  The fish can see no difference between sunlight and midnight.  Even though it has eyes, it cannot see!  The fish has so misused and disused the faculty of sight that the power to see has perished.

The truth is that the same law operates in us.  If we are motivated by hatred, or fear or anger (darkness) we begin to say, “This light is darkness; this good is evil.”  We confuse light and darkness, fact and falsehood, truth and lies, beauty and ugliness, love and hate.  Though we have eyes, ears, heart and soul, we have lived in the dark so long that we cannot see, or hear, or feel, or experience what is truth, fact, goodness, beauty, and love.

Not only does such blindness happen in us as individuals, but it is evident in our current political drama, that the same blindness can happen to us as a society.  We must be careful not to swim in the dark waters of racial animosity, religious intolerance, mendacity, hate, misogyny, hurtful innuendo, and all the other forms of darkness that are currently rampant.  If we do so, we shall become blind like the fish in Mammoth Cave, unable to distinguish between light and darkness.  

Big Bend National Park, TX

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