Esteem-ating

Esteem-ating
Study for Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus, John William Waterhouse, 1900


" … and not peer darkly into any glass."


We tend to peer into the glass brightly, always perceiving better ahead. Our self-esteem seems to rely upon this curious facility, as if darker visions might utterly destroy us. Those who project more pessimistically attract few followers, for they seem simply grumbly, suffering from some form of depressive disorder. Speaking truth to power first requires speaking truth to one's self, and few selves seem very interested in anything like the truth. We want the princess to marry the prince, which recently transformed from a toad, and live happily ever after because we'd prefer to live happily ever after, too. We first seek reassurance. The depths of deflecting denial seem just as infinite as the heights of our hopefulness. A No-Man's Land stands between these defensive barricades.

In mid-April, the US suffered the equivalent of a D-Day invasion's number of dead every two days, an unimaginable volume, even in retrospect.
By mid-June, we were down to a D-Day number of deaths approximately every four days, still an incomprehensible number, and most certainly an undercount. We imagine this a vast improvement without fully acknowledging the setback we continue experiencing. The curve seems to be flattening, but the nano-bullets continue invisibly flying, mowing down more than most among us have ever witnessed before. We project positively, even in this face of undeniably withering fire. We deny anyway. We're opening up, some having discarded their only defenses, bare-faced in the face of this curiously unclear and seemingly almost absent enemy. We might live too far from the front to hear the cannons' thunder. We consequently might wonder what all the fuss was about. It was about a D-Day every other day, now a D-Day every four. Success seems like it might be a D-Day every week for the foreseeable future, bleak.

Those who warned of the darker possibilities, back when the case count numbered a scant two or three, were almost universally seen as crying wolf. Their other-than-rosy projections proved wildly unpopular, those watchmens' reputations temporarily wounded. Some were summarily dismissed from their watchman posts for projecting such a frightening future. A future, as always, came to pass with little memory of past projections, a surprise for most, vindication of a sort for a thin minority, a bitter return on a significant investment. A D-Day every other day seemed unthinkable until it came. Those who insist it might well return are relearning earlier lessons about acceptability. We dare not slink around overwhelmed by dread, even if the alternative might most certainly become a raft of otherwise unavoidable innocents' deaths.

During the 1918-19 Spanish Flu Pandemic, some cities maintained a force of enforcers who arrested and fined those refusing to wear their masks in public. Many just could not believe that the virus had their name on it, only to learn too late that it did. Not one of the victims wished for any worst case experience and few of the survivors wanted to believe the danger surrounding them. The outcome seemed simply random and at root unavoidable, though it most certainly only seemed that way. We have the superpower today to more accurately project probable outcomes, but our ability to accept those projections seems essentially unchanged. We distrust uncomfortable and inconvenient approximations of any truth, far preferring optimistic Esteem-ating over any more dire kind.

Objective projections attempt to produce an impossibility, observations without the influence of an observer. We have access to vast floods of raw data and analytical tools beyond any prior era's imagination, and still doubt the resulting observations. Even should we successfully leach out the observer's influence, the results must still pass The Smell Test. They could not possibly be correct when they seem to inject altogether too much negativity into our fates. For we were supposed to marry royalty, recently recovering from frog displacement therapy, and not peer darkly into any glass.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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