Friday, October 30, 2020

The Uncertainty Principle

Listening to the polling on NPR, the experts are telling me that Biden has a very good chance, but there’s still room for Trump to pull off a win.  It all depends on how the votes are counted, even if they are counted, and because of the overwhelming number of mail-in ballots, we won’t know who wins Tuesday night.

I know that’s probably the smart way to think, but at a foundational level, I don’t like not being certain about an outcome, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t either.  And nothing has defined this year more than uncertainty.

Everything has been touched, magnified exponentially by Covid-19 and our inability to control it or even know to initially respond to it.  Add to that the politicization of it by Trump, who thrives on uncertainty because he’s uncertain himself and only succeeds by making others uncertain, and you have a toxic mix that stupefies and calls everything into question.  The mind-boggling quotient is that in what we used to nostalgically call “normal times,” choosing between an incompetent and thoroughly loathsome narcissist and a calm, competent, and compassionate challenger would lead to a very certain outcome: the buffoon would have been drawing single-digit poll numbers before Labor Day, and even allowing for the standard warnings about complacency and in-utero barnyard fowl tabulations, it would be a landslide of epic proportions.  But… too much is uncertain.  Will the votes be counted accurately without interference or injunction?  Will the Postal Service deliver?  Will the asteroid hit?

News outlets and print media count on uncertainty; it sells ad space and newspapers.  And by all standards of decency and journalism, they have a duty to report the news and the prospects of various scenarios, be it the election or Covid-19.  But the one thing they cannot control is our own feelings of queasy uncertainty, and that filters down into our everyday lives.  Will my office be open; will I even have a job?  Will my kids be able to go to school, and what dangers do they face when they’re there?

We all want this to be over, some to the point that they don’t care about the outcome.  Well, I do care about the outcome, and I’ve done what I can to ensure it comes out the way I hope it does: I voted, I took my two Covid-19 tests (both negative, thank you), and I went to work to make sure that my school is running for the kids no matter if they’re in class or on line.  I think that’s the only way we can deal with uncertainty: be certain of the small things that touch your life — your family, your work, your friends.  As the Serenity prayer says, we all need the strength, the courage, and the wisdom.

One bark on “The Uncertainty Principle

  1. Amen.

    Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.
    –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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