The One-Eyed Man
In the country of the blind, goes the saying, the one-eyed man is king.
It’s a nice saying, as such things go. Concise. You don’t have to be an all-seeing master of the universe. You just need to know more than the stupid monkey next door.
Nice thought. Totally wrong.
We’re seeing this play out right now. Here we have something new, something novel, and the one-eyed men and women among us are scrambling to see it, to understand it. They’re doing a decent job of it, too. We know more about it today than we did yesterday. We’ll know still more about it tomorrow.
We — the cyclops among us, anyway — are also learning how to manage it, contain it, survive it, if not yet individually, then as a herd of stupid monkeys. “Social distancing” is not a solution — it’s a stopgap, something to buy us time until we get the real solution in place: massive testing, methodical contact tracing, hotspot containment, the works.
If the saying were true, they would be our monarchs right now. Help us, Nerdy-One Kenobis! You’re our only hope!
And they are. They’re trying, too, as hard as they can. But they don’t reign. The blind do. The ignorant (to liberate the saying from its ableism) hold all the power. And they sure as hell ain’t giving it up.
We know this, too, not from a saying, but from all those disaster movies where a scientist tries to warn the powerful of the oncoming calamity. It’s not that the powerful are blind, or even all that ignorant. They refuse to listen. They shut their eyes, hoping it will all go away.
It never does.
It’s the refusal that breaks the saying, that undermines the lesson, that cancels the wisdom. They’re not blind. Their eyes are shut. Their eyes have been shut all their lives. That’s their world, the world they know, and they’ve gotten along pretty well in it, or well enough. Why look now?
Sucks for the rest of us, but hey. That’s our world. Omniscience has consequences. You had to look, didn’t you?
Sayings like that flatter their speaker, but the wisdom they impart is false. Ignorance doesn’t seek enlightenment, especially not yours. Ignorance only wants to remain ignorant, hermetically sealed in a fantasy world where shutting your eyes to horror keeps the horror away. At least until it kills you, or (to date) 80,000 of your fellow citizens. And then it won’t matter, will it?
And now that your eyes are open, here’s the truth about the Emperor’s New Clothes: Everybody else gets naked, too. The kid’s just a crank.