Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sitting Behind a Cow

I thought I was so damn smart, being from the big city and all. But then one day I found myself sitting behind a cow. It’s a long story. Suffice it to say I was on a writing assignment which took me to a dairy farm. I was sitting behind a cow in its stall. To my left and right there was an endless line of cow asses sticking out of stalls, as far as the naked eye could see.

Suddenly, I heard a whoosh. And gushing out of the ass of the cow in the stall directly to my left was a mudslide of shit, enough to fill a bucket. I instantly realized that at any moment the ass of the cow in front of me could similarly erupt, in which case gallons of shit would land in my lap.

So what did I do? I backed up until I was out of range. And I felt as if I had just learned a profound lesson about human existence. But I never figured out exactly what that lesson was until I recently met a man who spends much of his day worshiping a praising a Supreme Entity.

The man said the secret to his happiness, and to all human happiness, is to recognize the infallibility of this Entity and to surrender to its power. The Supreme Entity will ultimately judge us all in the end and its judgment is never wrong. Those that accept and obey its edicts and pronouncement and follow its path will be rewarded. Those that scoff will be punished. Thus, there is no such thing as injustice. The Supreme Entity always gives us what we deserve

This man, of course, is a libertarian. And the Supreme entity he so passionately worships is the Free Market, whatever in the hell that is. And listening to him going on made me realize that the valuable lesson I learned from nearly being shat upon by a cow was the difference between ignorance and naiveté.

To me, naiveté implies innocence. You do or say or believe something stupid because you don’t know any better. I was naïve about cows. I’d never been that close to a cow in its pre-slaughtered stage. Once I gained a deeper understanding of what cows are and how they function by witnessing how robustly they take a shit, I adjusted my behavior and worldview accordingly. Had I refused to acccept this new perspective, I would have been shat upon.

But ignorance to me is naiveté plus willful self-deception. The root of the word is ignore. You continue to do or say or believe something stupid despite all the evidence to the contrary. Some people are so ignorant they must take a daily personal vow: “I do solemnly swear to ignore the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” They must fervently pray first thing each morning: “Please give me the strength to dismiss everything that threatens to alter my perception of reality.”

It’s so bloody obvious that in this libertarian man’s utopia, the only change cripples could ever hope for is spare change. If this man spent much time at all hanging around cripples he’d see that pretty fast.  But I’m sure he knows that avoiding cripples is one of the keys to maintaining his ignorance.

Maybe he’ll see the light if he becomes a cripple and he gets shat upon.