The Bright Side

Article by Terry O’Neill, former Lake Geneva alderperson

There is a hidden half, or more, of the City of Lake Geneva. What one sees of the City of Lake Geneva is only a small part of it. Of the 7,760 people in the city, most people really know only another very small percent of the residents. Most of the city and residents fall outside that personal window. Although some filtering of that window is done at the conscious level, much of the filtering, like the running of our body, is done at a subconscious level. The subconscious sorting follows prewired genetics, family, culture, training, economics and our previous thoughts, interests, and concerns. In addition to conscious selecting, the subconscious is translating, sorting and selecting what it thinks we need or want to know and blocks out much of the rest. That automatic sorting works to both a benefit and a detriment. It filters out extraneous sensory inputs and enables us to concentrate on the selected items of interest, like hearing a single person in a noisy room, but in doing that it puts everything else into the vague background.

Much of the City of Lake Geneva is outside of immediate sight, interests or concerns and remains in that vague background to which we are almost all blind. We have our circle of friends, those we trust and with whom we associate, but the vast majority of the city lies within that vague background of which we know little, and with whom we have little or no communication. We share the same town, but to a large part, we live in separate communities within the city where our paths rarely cross except in our cars on local roads. It is a type of economic and social segregation that affects everything that we do, where we go and with whom we associate. To others, we are just a part of that vague background, and to us they are that vague background, and although we barely know or see outside of our personal window, we all seem to believe that the part of the elephant (Lake Geneva) that we see is the whole picture, but it is not. It is only the part that we have lived in, which leaves much of the city outside one’s personal realm of experience. Even though there are those who think they understand and say that they represent everyone in the city when they certainly do not.

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