Dealing With Stupid.
“Sayin' ball of confusion, that's what the world is today, hey, hey.” Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
I don’t often wager on stupidity. It doesn’t pay to make money off the tired and disillusioned, which is what most stupidity is these days. Some of it is understandable given the pandemic and Ukraine invasion. But mostly it’s just dumb and too far flung to be contained. Stupid can’t be contained.
We have to wonder about a Russian oligarch selling his football club with the proceeds going to the country his own country is invading. Or a truck convoy, now in Washington DC, protesting mandates that are already lifting. They’ve decided to go for freedoms in general, since they’re miles from home, and nobody’s listening much, anyway.
At a Florida District School Board meeting, one angry parent screamed, “We don’t live for a collective. We live for our rights and freedoms as parents.”
“You don’t have to wear those masks,” he told them. “Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we gotta stop with this COVID theatre.”
Florida seems to take great pride in its freedoms, starting with its governor, Ron DeSantis. While at the University of Florida recently, he told visiting Middleton High School students to take off their masks. “You don’t have to wear those masks,” he told them. “Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we gotta stop with this COVID theatre.”
Well, it’s one hell of a theatre. According to the New York Times, case counts in Florida have tripled since last July with over 70,247 deaths in total.
It seems stupidity makes us discount what is obvious in favour of what we’d liketo believe. Nearly half of President Biden’s 500M free COVID-19 tests haven’t even been claimed. People don’t feel the same urgency with virus cases plummeting. Out of sight, out of mind, in other words, yet viruses are like forest fires. Sometimes they burn underground.
We shouldn’t confuse stupid with confusion, though. Getting turned away from Arby’s because you don’t have a mask isn’t exactly draconian. It only becomes so when held up against other inconveniences, like sending your kid to school wearing a mask, or trying to fill the tank on your $70,000 pickup when you only get 15 mpg.
That’s when stupidity turns to collectivism, as parents gather to protest mandates, convoys descend on capitals, and politicians decide this is as good a time as any to prepare the ground for the next election.
Unfortunately, only 8% of the pipeline has been built, meaning it has absolutely no effect on oil prices today, nor would it alleviate any pressure in the near — or even distant — future.
Supporting Republican rhetoric, Fox News mentioned the Keystone XL pipeline 141 times in one week, suggesting it was the main cause of higher gas prices. Unfortunately, only 8% of the pipeline has been built, meaning it has absolutely no effect on oil prices today, nor would it alleviate any pressure in the near — or even distant — future.
It still brings out the rank and file, though, including characters like Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying Keystone and oil exploration on federal lands would help wean European allies off Russian gas. This was reiterated by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who said, “Better our oil than Russian oil.”
That’s true in a simplified sense, but tar sands oil — one of the worst polluters in terms of extraction — is already moving by other means. Kenney just wants more ways to move it. Similarly Graham, for all his talk about gas, just wants the Republican party back in power.
Both Senator Graham and Premier Kenney are essentially on the same page. It’s the rights and freedoms of their constituents that matters, and gas is the closest thing to a survivable election promise.
They only become collective when you find others in the same frame of mind. Everyone else needs to back off and shut their pieholes.
This is where individualism gets confused with collectivism. Whether it’s parental rights, or state’s rights, personal interests are first and foremost. They only become collective when you find others wanting the same things.
On the world stage, it seems to be a mixture of heroes and bunglers, each accusing the other of gross incompetency. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelencksyy, attacked NATO for not allowing a no-fly zone, claiming it is “weak.” Others congratulate NATO for sending troops to surrounding countries within their alliance.
This does nothing for Ukraine itself, but nobody wants a world war, which could happen anyway once Ukraine is annexed. Either Putin continues into the Baltic states, or the Chinese attack Taiwan, either of which looks like fair game at this stage.
Then there’s talk many Russians aren’t even keen on this invasion. Thousands have been arrested at protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Even the soldiers are less than enthusiastic, mostly because some aren’t even being fed regularly. One driver abandoned his tank, accepting food from Ukrainian locals, and asking for a phone to call his mother.
Those who are sticking to the invasion schedule, are finding themselves in strange jams. A group of soldiers decided to take the elevator in one building, only to have the power turned off. Their concerned faces showed up on a camera located in the elevator’s ceiling.
Perhaps it’s the same expression shown by another tank commander after his tank broke down. A local Ukrainian farmer offered to tow it back to the border using his tractor, a pretty noble thing for a farmer, a pretty embarrassing one for a soldier.
Meanwhile, over in China, there is now strong evidence that the coronavirus started in caged wild animals at the Wuhan wet markets. China still denies this, however, preferring to blame visiting Americans.
It’s a crazy time, and no doubt it’ll get crazier in the days, weeks and months ahead. Eventually cooler heads will prevail, or they won’t, which is more likely given the level of madness and failure out there today.
Not that we haven’t survived similar stupidity in the past. Going back to the sixties, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, both with Motown Records, wrote a song called “Ball of Confusion.” It seems prescient even now as we deal with more “balls of confusion” in every aspect of our lives.
I’ll leave you with some of their words, since they’re just as meaningful in this time as any other:
“Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul
Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
And the band plays on”
Robert Cormack is a novelist, journalist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Robert’s other articles and stories at robertcormack.net or join https://robertcormack.medium.com/membership
in Café beBee
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1 year ago #4
@Ken Boddie, they also say it takes one to know one 🙁 So it's great minds, Ken.
1 year ago #3
Funny you should think of BJ’s conflagration commencement denunciation chanson, @John Rylance. Rob’s post had me thinking of it also. You know what they say, “Great minds think alike”, or is it, “Fools seldom differ”? 🤗
1 year ago #2
Well, we try, John. How effective it is , I don't know.
1 year ago #1
This piece put me in mind of the Billy Joel song We didn't start the fire. Particularly the chorus.
We didnt light the fire
It's always been burning, since the world's been turning
We didnt start the fire.
No we didn't light it but we tried to fight it
The question we need to ask ourselves is what have we done if not put out the fire, to at least control it, help lessen its tragic effects