A lot of thought and solutions are ridiculous. I sometimes get caught up in either the details or see the issue from too far away, so much so that complexity becomes obvious simplicity. In my case, though, I’m not in charge and not being paid to weigh the complexities of moving social issues.
It’s possible to give a completely accurate answer to a question – and sometimes such an answer follows a logical route. It might still avoid addressing the fundamental question, though.
During this pandemic, I encounter several such scenarios on a daily basis. When well-meaning people are involved, it isn’t difficult to point out that the objective and the solution aren’t compatible. With authoritarian or toxic people, we get bogged down into sublimely ridiculous situations, like a Seinfeld episode written by sociopaths.
This pandemic has consistently beaten into my head that adults are not in charge and the ones who make many of the decisions are winging it, often for personal gain.
Completely random and incompatible directives and rules are issued. We collectively scratch our heads, trying to figure out the objective to determine whether the rule is a 10mph speed limit sign on a 6-lane highway at noon on a summer day. Eventually, someone will insist on clarification. Inevitably, we regret it because we’ll get an inscrutable non-answer that helps no one. This leads many people to choose malicious compliance or to continue to do whatever they want to.
Years ago, someone hit me with the riddle of “How long is a rope?”
Given no more information, I surrendered and said insufficient information was provided.
I knew it was going to be a trick answer. The smug look of victory on the guy’s face asking me was evidence of it.
“It’s twice the length from the middle,” he replied. “Gotcha!” He proclaimed.
“Does a fart smell or stink?” I asked him, as I walked away. Because I gave him the same condescending and smug look as he gave me, the question tortured him for a day.
Which leads me to the look of confusion on an expert’s face today. He gave me a stupid non-answer. I immediately reverted to my tried-and-true, “Does a fart smell or does it stink?” I bowed and walked away.