Willful blindness is a term used in the law to indicate when an individual seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally putting himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable. Willful blindness extends beyond the legal realm. Margaret Heffernan has written a book that expands the context of willful blindness to include the threats and dangers we face and don’t see because we choose to not see them.
In Willful Blindness, Margaret examines the phenomenon and traces its impact on our private and working lives, and within governments and organizations. She asks, “What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of?” Her conclusions start with our fear of being accountable for our choices.
Margaret helps us understand how willful blindness develops, and then goes on to outline some of the ways that organizations and individuals can increase their awareness and deliberateness. It’s time for us all to claim accountability for our lives so the changes we dream of can become real.
Last year, I spoke to Margaret as part of the Business Matters program. You can hear this interview below.