Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not Everything People Do Is Rational.

There are some things in life that simply don't make sense. No matter how you piece the different elements together, they fail to deliver any real cohesive meaning.

For instance, my sister-in-law invited me over to her house, and led me into an unused room to show me a phenomena that had her absolutely baffled. Apparently she lived in the same place formerly occupied by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparitis (who moved on to play with a club in another city). But what had her confused were the number of holes that were dug into the floor on one side of the room, against the wall. In each one of these, there rested the type of shoebox that clearly once held women's shoes (at least that was my impression).

My sister-in-law paused after she used her hands to dig out the dirt from the sides, freeing just one of the boxes. She looked at me wordlessly, and then removed the lid. She passed the open box to me to have a look. Inside were three chicken wings. More properly they were mini-drumsticks that had been eaten... eaten in the way that people commonly eat drumstick wings. They were taken down to the bone in the center, and the top and bottom of the wings still held the skin and cartilage, and other things not easily consumed. But the weird thing was that they appeared as if they had been hermetically sealed into the containers as recently as an hour ago. They were not discolored (as far as wings are concerned) and there was no mold clinging to the remains. As far as I remember, they had no real scent.

We continued to dig out box after box, with the exact same results. What was truly wierd in retrospect was that my sister-in-law seemed to know what to expect in each of them, as if she had dug those boxes up previously. I never questioned that in the moment, but the floor had seemed smooth and undisturbed. Maybe the whole scenario was just too surreal for me to think through things logically. After several repeats with the wing bones, my sister-in-law paused for dramatic effect with a new box. She looked at me knowingly, and took the lid off- only to expose a steaming hot dog in its bun, resting in and covered by a bath of thick meaty chili. I don't eat chili dogs regularly, because they tend to produce a lot of acid that tears into my stomach lining, making me very sick. But for some reason... this box of piping hot junk food made me hungry.

Some times it's best not to look into things too deeply. Why had Darius Kasparitis buried his mostly-eaten chicken wings into the floor? Why had he then continued to make chili dogs, only to bury them alongside the boxes with the wings? Why did my sister-in-law buy a house that had one bedroom with a dirt floor? There may be no adequate answers to any of these questions. Not everything people do is rational.

And so when I was sitting in the bar last night with a friend, it wasn't unusual for us to be puzzling over the beliefs and voting habits of many of our fellow Americans. Why is it that so many people ignore the impending signs of doom, and continue through their routines, blissfully unaware that humanity has caused possibly irreparable damage to the environment? Furthermore, why don't the people who have real power in our country act to remedy the situation? Perhaps those power brokers are truly too attached to the short-term profits they make from the current energy paradigm. But we might expect that people who have reached those positions in society were at one time particularly able to manage the formation of a long-term plan for success.

Even so, it should have been clear to the majority of ordinary voters that re-electing George W. Bush would not benefit them. One would assume that people would act according to the dictates of understanding of their own enlightened self-interest. Was the administration truly that effective in its manipulation of mass perception? Was the media complicit, and if so- why?

It doesn't make any sense to bury food (whether eaten or not) in the dirt of your bedroom floor. Similarly, very few people have benefited from the years Bush has been president. Sometimes people do irrational things, and we have to accept our own inability to fathom why they do them. Because otherwise we may go mad.

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