Archives for posts with tag: New Year Wisdom

Once upon a time, there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”

“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed!  “Not only did your horse return, but you received two more.  What great fortune you have!”

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.  “Now your son cannot help you with your farming,” they said.  “What terrible luck you have!”

“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.

The following week, military officials came to the village to conscript young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”

The man smiled to himself and said: “We’ll see.”

Such wisdom in the labourers of the land

Then, Donald Trump was elected president after running a campaign built on a foundation of vilifying Muslims and Mexicans, and bragging about sexual assault. The aghast neighbours complained to the farmer, “This is horrifying! Nothing could possibly be worse!”

The old farmer, unmoved, said, “We’ll see.”

In a few years, Donald Trump was impeached for a minority of the crimes he had committed while in office. And, despite the repudiation by the Republican-controlled senate, the neighbours were jubilant. “Finally, history will recognize the illegitimacy of this president! This is terrific!”

The old farmer, managing the various trade wars impacting agriculture at the time, said, “We’ll see.”

All of a sudden, there was a global pandemic. There were murder hornets. Donald Trump was advising people to inject bleach in lieu of the medically-proven preventative measure of wearing a mask. People were dying. Businesses were shutting down. The neighbours, ignoring social distancing measures, approached the old man. “This is apocalyptic! Surely you’ll acknowledge the objective fact that this is terrible! Come on, old man! What is your absolute deal!?”

The old farmer, nothing if not consistent, replied, “We’ll see.”

In this universe, rural voters are consistently Democrats.

Joe Biden won the election with a 7 million majority over Donald Trump. The first Blasian woman vice president was on his ticket. He had promised to bring the country back to normal. The neighbours, exhausted, said, “Doesn’t normal sound good? After all we’ve been through!? We just want to go to the movies and hug our loved ones. That’s not so much to ask! This is a good thing! Normal is good!”

The old farmer, the scope of whose lexicon is somewhat concerning, said, “We’ll see.”

After having fomented a soft coup for months, Donald Trump began an attempt to overthrow democracy. He lied about the election results, and went to bizarre lengths to discredit long-established norms. He refused to accept the results, and his enforcement of personal loyalty paid off as sycophants began to fall in line behind him. The neighbours, having developed this wonderful parabolic relationship with the old farmer, rushed to talk to him about it. “America is crumbling. Europe is literally breaking apart. The world order is shifting seismically. We will break you, old man! Something is going to get through!”

Quoth the old farmer, “We’ll see.”

And then 2020 ended. The year from hell had finished its revolution around the sun. The neighbours, their ranks thinned by the pandemic, collapsed at the doorway of the old farmer. “We did it! We made it to the end! This is cause for celebration!”

The old farmer, noticing a tickle in his throat, coughed. “We’ll see.”

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!”

The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

“Don’t cry ‘wolf’, shepherd boy,” said the villagers, “when there’s no wolf!” They went grumbling back down the hill.

Later, the boy sang out again, “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.

When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, “Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don’t cry ‘wolf’ when there is NO wolf!”

But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.

Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, “Wolf! Wolf!”

But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn’t come.

At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn’t returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.

“There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, “Wolf!” Why didn’t you come?”

The villagers lamented the loss of their sheep,

“What has always been false is now true! Past causes are not necessary determinants of the future! Induction is invalid!”

This year I was hoping to help people with some resolutions. As everyone knows, New Year’s resolutions inevitably end in failure, so I’m hoping to offer a couple that will make a difference even if you only do them once.

  • Read books on topics written from perspectives with which you disagree. And I do mean books. Something with citations in the back. A Youtube clip of someone condescendingly explaining how right they are using only the evidence of how wrong their opponents must be based on the actions and words of a few individuals from within that group doesn’t count. We are stuck in a world where passivity leads to echo chambers that are far too easy to get lost in, with their warm, self-righteous comforts. We must actively seek out opposing views if we’re ever going to grow.
  • Express your own opinions. As terrible as that Youtuber truly is, they are still progressing their own terrible views. They own that. It’s their face, their voice, their words. They can’t escape the responsibility of that, and that is tremendously admirable. Re-posting that video, sharing a meme, or even posting an article distances you from that culpability. You no longer become the owner of your own thoughts, and you can maintain that distance as a means to never feel as though you are wrong. Did the meme you just posted make a generalization about a certain group? Oh, well you didn’t make that generalization, so if someone disagrees with that, they’re not disagreeing with you, they’re disagreeing with your ideals which are only partly exhibited in your meme yet are still wholly represented by it. This only ever leads to petty arguing. If you have something to say, say it. Even if it isn’t flowery, or powerful, or maybe it is too flowery to the point of being alienating, it is still yours. You can never add your voice to a movement if you never actually use it.

These are not difficult things to do. All they require is openness and authenticity, but I fear there will be more people lining up for gym memberships that they will abandon in two weeks than there will be willing to try either of these. Feel free to prove me wrong though, and I’ll be quite happy to own that.