Life lessons are most often taken from poor experiences. We say ‘I should have known better’. Or ‘I should have seen that coming’. But, the fact is we do not always see or know what is happening during situations. This article offers the suggetion that sometimes it is ok to ‘sit on the fence’.
Over the last year, we’ve lived in an unprecedented crisis. Opinions abound, everything from conspiracy to twisted science. And one observation is: learned scientists have different views. Are we qualified to reason through their opinions? We think we are, but we are not: because, it doesn’t matter if you are a science teacher or nurse or health care professional: only the scientist and professor hold the cards. There is no certainty, because, others teams will counter your interpretation and the ideas you follow.
Surrounding the table at the moment are leaders and scientists gambling with the lives of billions of people. There is no way they ALL have a solution: there is one outcome: only one of the players will pick up the pot. And the game can change in a moment or the twist of the dealer’s hand. We could consider the dealer is the media who sometimes play with a crocked deck. Nothing is sure, all is to be played for: for the winner.
The game of poker is about bluff and the amount of money in each players pocket. But like the ending of the film ‘The Cincinnati Kid’ a royal flush beats all other hands. Holdoing a royal flush is determined by the dealer and chance. There is only one winner, and no one at the table knows who that will be: But remember, the others lose something, and that something is money credibility, honour, respect.
And this seems to be the nature of the moment: Many are soon to lose credibility, honour or respect: and because they know this, they will play until their credit is no good. And they are in a difficult situation: because they understand the cost of losing, and in this game there is too much to lose: they will never be able to return to the table.
The rules of the game are true science and the nature of disease. The situation will follow its path no matter what, and the players have differing opinions of how the disease will affect humankind. Who are the players? They are an establishment who plays praying for a convincing hand, hoping the dealer will give then the winning cards!
Considering the present situation is a game of chance and it is possible you have the right attitude.
History demonstrates, humankind is resilient. We live and die, and horrors occur: you can see this from world wars to city finance collapse. Although there ‘seems’ to be one winner: whoever wins is not, in the long term important. Because the outcome will be placed into history books, and life will return to the ways of humankind. Many think there will be a ‘new normal’. There is no such thing; we are a diverse and complex society: from wealthy to poor and there are many poorer than rich. The poor’s ultimate desire is to be happy; they do not care for the players on the table. Because, for them, they have never been or never will be able to play in, or influence the game. Also, it is the desire for happiness which rules the inner-being of the average person, their desire is to live a balanced life.
History Books Are Full of Sorrow and Destruction
The crisis is one moment in the timeline of societies. It will become history and distorted: this is the way of life, the way of nature, acception this idea is a way to mentally survive. To survive well, one learns to accept the outcomes of existence, good or bad. You may believe you know what will happen to society. And that’s good because you have certainty in mind. But what will happen if the confident opinion is proven wrong? How will you feel? Can you cope with losing? An alternative is to have an open mind: see both sides of situations and choose to keep a balanced opinion: this is a potent mindset and one used by survivors: who know the ability to ‘change the mind’ is a beneficial mindset.
Being optimistic and looking toward a positive future is the mindset of the resilient. Seeking poor outcomes is the way to unhappiness. You may think: ‘This is a terrible situation; there is no way out’. Of course, there is no way out for those who believe this to be so: and there is little point in persuading them otherwise. Their mindset is their way, their choice and will effect their life: being overly cynical makes life an unhappy experience.
Life is not decisive; it is uncertain. We do not know much about the future. This year’s crisis has proven no long term predictions can be made. No matter how secure you think life is: the truth is: it is uncertain. Once one considers uncertainty as acceptable, something magic happens! We get on with life and enjoy the daily happinesses which come our way. Be Careful – I’m not writing; we should be complacent with present guidelines. Keep your mind well away from that idea. This article is about resilience, and knowing the future is not set in stone. It is about wellbeing: and understanding life is uncertain: Even the players around the table do not know who’ll win.
Once one considers uncertainty as an option: it is easier to make the best of present situations. Of course, you have plenty of example’s against the idea. ‘My marriage is certain; my love of my children is certain’ etc. And I’m sure you are right. But life’s situations, relationships, marriage or love are not absolute: lose a job, and everything can go amiss, have a stroke, and your partner may not be able to cope, and parent’s cannot choose a child’s spouce: there are too many external influences.
Accepting uncertainty is easy: it is being a spectator, watching the game. Uncertainty provides an option to accept situations. It helps us to stop guessing the future (good or bad) accepting uncertainty means we make the most of where we are at now.
See You Soon
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What a great article – with much to reflect upon.
The benefits of sitting on the fence can be underestimated, as can the dangers.
The benefits are that if you do to do anything about something, you can be fairly confident that, unless in instances of immediate danger, things will probably stay largely the same. For a while. That is alright.
The danger is that you can either make things happen, let things happen, or wonder what has happened. So by not making a decision yourself, you are at the mercy of decisions taken by those around you.
Action is good – but it must be the right action, otherwise you can find yourself better off letting others take charge. Greece as a country has been an economic disaster for decades. But Greeks have so little confidence in their own government that they would rather let the EU do their thinking for them.
I think that we are currently in a social time when experts are mistrusted, and popular opinion holds sway. T’was ever thus. In times of disease, pandemic, storms and pestilence people have always felt powerless and searched for something beyond the immediate. “If you are so smart how did you let this happen?”
My experience is that the views of experts are under appreciated. The good ones will be very quick to tell you what they don’t know, and qualify what they do know.
On a very basic level we need to believe in experts for life to carry on. We need to believe that the chair we are going to sit on is unlikely to collapse, and that the water we drink from the tap will be safe.
The key to dealing with experts is to ask the right questions, and many of us are poor at doing that because we ourselves do not know them. I would be hopeless interviewing a nuclear scientist.
The conspiracy theories that abound regarding Covid 19 are driven by fear, society has always searched for scapegoats when things are happening outside of its control.
At a time when global coherence is required, the world has been fracturing. Brexit has seen us retreat from the world stage, Trump’s USA is isolationist, China is pursuing a policy of economic Imperialism, the Russians see political opportunity. Anyone hoping for a united front will be disappointed. Simultaneously global corporations, be it Amazon through home delivery or the Pharmaceutical industry, eye huge profits. Corporations with profit as their only goal.
History is the past reinvented. Modern vaccines take several years to develop for a reason – that is how long clinical development and trials take. You cannot compress a one or five year study on a group of a thousand. Pandemics blow themselves out when they have killed all they are going to kill, and infected all that they are going to infect. All that we can do is affect the rate at which this happens.
Meantime we have to do what we can, with what we have, where we are. Societies and economies are in a constant state of flux. The High Street was dying before, Covid 19 has simply hurried the process along. We will survive, and many are doing very well out of the changing circumstances.
The post ww2 generation have lived in broadly settled times. This is an uncomfortable awakening. A year ago, long term was ten years , now it is maybe three years. Uncertainty is life. We know when we were born, we do not know when we are going to die, and how. Maybe pre Covid 19 society had become complacent with itself? Maybe the questions we are asking ourselves now we should always have been asking?
Many thanks for this excellent observation Gary