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"Keying Up" – The Court Jester by William Merritt Chase, 1875

"I might never know what to say to any unmasked anyone."

I asked The Muse what I might say to someone not wearing a mask in public. She responded by reporting that she'd been considering just carrying around a few of her homemades, so she could generously offer them one, on the presumption that they might not own one. I thought that a fine strategy, though I notice that she hasn't yet started offering anyone this sort of assistance. Judging from the apparent belligerence of those choosing not to wear masks, her offer seems unlikely to attract many takers, though just one might reform my pessimism. I failed to convince my grand niece that two hundred thousand empirical observations might reasonably suggest that a medication might not prevent or cure Covid-19, but she insisted that the findings might have influenced her had they come from double blind testing, the very sort impossible to perform during an actual pandemic. She was married to her perspective. The more I argued counter to her preconceptions, the stupider I seemed to become in her eyes. Stupid in anyone's eyes renders impossible any seeing eye to eye.

Even a casual observer can't help but notice that our world seems filled with utter stupidity.
We're apparently a short-sighted species. I focus almost exclusively upon irrelevancies over significances. I'm infinitely hungry, underlyingly angry, and dedicated to getting away Scott-free. I prefer to hold Myself blameless, which roughly translates into a preference for personal cluelessness, though I tend to become intolerant toward others who appear clueless to me. I seem to be a pot calling my fellow kettles black. I much more easily ascribe stupidity to others and accept only begrudgingly others' assertions that I might also be stupid, though on my better days, I might admit to holding a few deep mysteries. I feel uniquely unqualified, deeply confused inside, and apparently dedicated to failing to hide these facts from others. I might be more transparent than I ever imagine myself to be.

I've been wrestling with the sheer volume of obvious stupidities surrounding me as this pandemic continues settling in. I need not recount them, for they seem legion and utterly unignorable. The pandemic-related stupidities pile atop the preexisting ones to some days overwhelm my meager coping capabilities. I might even lash out. Jesus never insisted that "The stupid will always be with us," like he asserted about the poor, but it seems increasingly clear to me that the real wolf at my door, the true threat to my serenity, never was the poverty or the overwhelming stupidity surrounding me. It was always me, all by myself. My own indolence and intolerance undermines my presence as well as my tranquility. When I respond angrily, I lose my spot, my modest little lilly pad of a place I could otherwise call home. I lose a little bit of my mind every time I lose my spot, likely to eventually find myself simply mindless in my responses. My frustration wearies me.

What is it that seems to drive me to insist upon cluing in others? Since when was I a duly-elected representative of sanity and reason? Yes, their stupidity existentially threatens me, but when did it not? And what arguments have I got that might actually clue them in? I cannot enlighten them like they cannot enlighten me. We don't seem to inhabit the same universe, share a common language, or even distantly comprehend the magnitude of our separation. I won't read the book you pass me like you won't read the one I so generously hand to you, for neither of us can read our other's language, however cleverly packaged. Your truth seems like propaganda to me, as mine doubtless does to you. If we could agree on even the simplest of facts, we would have already addressed climate change, bigotry, and probably, this damned pandemic. We cede our reason to a presumed common sense, which seems both distinctly uncommon and makes little sense to anyone indisposed to sense-making. Most just react to their senses, as if senses held any underlying sensibility or reason.

Why do you suppose our situations always seems so dire? Will any of us ever tire of our sacred certainties? I can hardly reform myself when I catch myself exhibiting behaviors I can't quite recognize as mine. I know that I do not feel fine, and so I feel compelled to intervene, usually without fully comprehending anything other than my own discomfort. We seem to employ reason like monkeys use trees. We use reason, but we do not seem to be horticulturalists of it as a result. We hang from the handier limbs and avoid those that scare us, and claim to be fundamentally reasonable people just because we each hang out in a tree. Yours seems more of a bush to me, a sucker sort of tree, one I cannot believe could adequately support me. So much for reason.

We each get to draw our own conclusions. I conclude that I'm better off excluding some of the controversy from my life. I avoid those places where stupidity seems to threateningly swarm, seeking first to harm no one. I might reasonably insist upon certain adherences from myself, but not necessarily from others. My enlightenments must seem like jester's wisdom to so many others that if I focused upon whether my logic made any sense to everyone else, I would not be able to avoid concluding that I am some virulent form of batshit crazy. I live and let live, sometimes rendered speechless at the stupidity surrounding me, and perhaps better for my situational inability to speak. I might never know what to say to any unmasked anyone.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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