Rage, Flower Thrower, by Banksy, painted on a wall of a gas station in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestine

"Even the most powerful people on this planet cannot influence the velocity of fate."

This Pandemic seems to have promoted paradox into fresh prominence. Paradoxes shred conventional problem-solving by presenting conditions not immediately conducive to understanding or resolution. They remain mysterious and above all tricky. This one does not crisply respond to even the more well-intended interventions. Our scientists seem uncommonly wise for initially prescribing strategic retreat. Politicians predictably embraced full frontal assaults, if only to preserve the useful fiction that they were in charge, a strategy doomed to fail. The more powerful you pretend to be against a pandemic, the weaker you eventually seem. Scream all you want, offensive speech and derisive action will not succeed. Conquering paradoxes demands a certain subtlety.

Responding to any emergency with patient inquiry seems so counter-intuitive as to feel like most certainly the wrong approach.
We're doers more than we're detectives and we lack the patience necessary to work through non-rational difficulties. We want to find the mole to whack and just whack it, regardless of the number of times each whack encourages the mole to come back. Attention properly focused upon finding THE BEST solution, resolution evades us, but as long as we're swinging the mallet, we sense that we must be making progress. ThePandemicParadox probably finds amusement observing our antics. It holds a secret nobody knows the answer to yet. Yet.

However much we get our backs up in response to its emergence, paradoxes take time to resolve, much of that time spent unlearning prior certainties by the seemingly most humiliating means. Wrong might eventually prove to have paved the path to understanding and resolution, but for most of the effort, it will just feel wrong. We encourage each other to remain strong and resolute, but our self-esteem wanes. We once upon a time put a man on the moon but we're severely wounded by some rampaging nano-particle? Our experience does not quite come to naught, but it does not lend much in the way of burgeoning confidence. We might initially out-smart ourselves with our firm belief that we might easily out-smart it. Paradoxes don't much care about smart. They seem to care about nothing, so our patient prudence might produce the smartest responses.

Eventually, some stupid little trick might prove to utterly vanquish it, but this hope provides little reassurance when we're still in the thick of its mysterious spread. Some claim to understand early on, each without proof beyond faithful belief. Those who claim to understand immediately will be the ones most likely to eventually be proven fools. Our faith in faith healers might temporarily assuage our deeper fears, our churches filled today with the faithful only to be refilled with dearly departed a fortnight later. Resolution moves at the approximate speed of a wounded buffalo regardless of how fast anyone exhorts it to go. Even the most powerful people on this planet cannot influence the velocity of fate.

We should properly lose patience with ourselves and with the Powers That Once Were, for we all concur that those most powerful suddenly don't seem nearly as powerful as we once presumed they were. Our humanity shows through, decency as well as cruelty, and we recognize more of ourselves when protesting than we might when praying, separated only by our choice of projectiles. Most of our machinations will prove fruitless. Many of our benefactors will remain unrecognized. Once we fall out of Ordinary Times, the underlying rules change, not conspicuously but exclusively surreptitiously. Once we figure out the trick, we can claim to be masters of it. Until then, we're its pawns.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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