Monday, September 12, 2016

Word of the Day: Bafflement

Nearly two years ago I said I was going to quit posting on “topical” issues, because it seemed I was repeating the same thing over and over again, and if anything is “constant” in the world, it is the fact that nothing really changes, save the names and the places. Since then—well, nothing ever really changes, does it?

But that doesn’t mean that old news can’t be recast in different ways. Something happened to me today, and a word came to mind, but I won’t tell you what it is, today. But over the weekend I encountered another word, and it will be today’s “word of the day”: Bafflement.

What is bafflement? Bafflement is the psychological state brought on by surprise at the debunking of conventional “wisdom,” the disruption of preconceived expectations, and the disturbing of made-up minds in general. Those blinded by their own fanaticism are particularly susceptible to this state. People who suffer from bafflement express surprise that their preferred choice for, say, President of the United States, is not further ahead in the polls. After all, the other candidate has no positive qualities worth noting; he is “unfit” and “unqualified,” according to a campaign ad. Yet he is nearly even in the polls with the “preferred” choice. Baffling!

But people stricken with the state of bafflement can be cured, no chemical substances required, and it would be advisable that those consuming chemicals or spirits in excessive quantity desist forthwith. It also helps, if possible, to remove the psychological barriers that prevent clear and rational examination of the facts. Facts relieve the symptoms of bafflement, and once recognized, bring about the cure for bafflement—enlightenment. 

The facts revealed by enlightenment include recognition of the difference between “experience” and “qualification.” The “experience” of an inability to work with others on  a difficult issue (healthcare reform) certainly doesn’t “qualify” one for an eight-year stint as a U.S. Senator—especially when that senator did not follow through on a single promise she made to the people of her “adopted” state. One may hold a particular office, such as “Secretary of State,” but political patronage does not imply “qualification” for the office; history tells us quite the opposite. The lack of real accomplishment—in fact being part of the problem rather than the solution—should not be praised unduly, but called what it is in fact. The lack of proper temperament and training, the inability to offer good and sound advice to the president that actual experience qualifies one to give—instead using the office as a 4-year vacation on the taxpayer dime—are facts that should relieve the deluded of their bafflement. 

But that is not enough. The sufferer from bafflement must recognize and accept the fact that repeated incidents of corruption and perjury over four decades is not mere “coincidence,” but clear evidence of moral and ethical deficiency of a very serious nature. The fact that we are yet still confronted with continuing evidence of these deficiencies should not “baffle” anyone, but enlighten them on the truth. The potential for enlightenment is why one candidate fears a presidential debate, because her opponent—unlike her primary opponent—does not abide by the rule against “personal attacks,” because the substance of those “personal attacks” should be what this election is about. And those questions should not end merely because confederates who were convicted in those crimes either refused to testify truthfully, or were harassed, intimidated and discounted.

This is not to say that the other candidate has lesser deficiencies, just of a different order. He does not lie, but his brand of “honesty” is repugnant to most of us. No one is “baffled” by his pronouncements; one either shares his paranoia and xenophobia, or they do not. But that does not mean that the “alternative” of pathological corruption and perjury is “preferable.” It is not. What is “baffling” is that many people, and most egregiously in the media, remain purposefully baffled by why anyone would “prefer” the lout over the liar, when it should not be baffling at all. As for myself, I’m not “baffled” at all, save for one thing: I think that half of the lout’s supporters are “deplorable” racists, but the liar now “regrets” that she implied such a thing. She “lied” to get the minority vote, now it is time to lie to get the white racist vote. 

Come to think of it, I’m not really baffled about that after all. Nor am I “baffled” by the recent revelation that the candidate was suffering from a recent case of pneumonia (in the summertime?)—when she had previously derided her opponent’s claims about her health issues.

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