Hello and good day!
My parents divorced when I was fourteen years old. After that, I attended school near my dad's house and lived with him most of the time.
Two or three days a week, after school, I caught the public bus over to my mom's house to stay with her. We bowled together every Wednesday night, so that night was a given. The rest of the time though, my mother had to get used to living on her own after twenty years of marriage.
We were always a cat family when I was growing up.The house that my father and I moved out of and my mom now lived in had a cat door in the back. It was convenient because our cats could come and go as they pleased. We didn't have to worry about letting them out or bringing them in.
One night my mom was sleeping. I wasn't there. She was by herself in the house. It was the middle of the night, dark and silent. She was a newly single woman living alone in what was once our family home. She rolled over towards the middle of the bed.
For some reason, during the roll, she woke up. She opened her eyes but didn't see anything because it was dark. Then she heard it, a long guttural hiss like the sound one makes before hocking a loogie, but prolonged. When her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she realized that she was lying face to face with a possum that had climbed into bed with her.
She screamed. "Aaahhhhhh!" The possum scurried off the bed and hid behind the clothes dryer. Mom had a bunch of cardboard boxes in the kitchen that she'd broken down and had planned to throw away the next day. She stuffed cardboard around the sides of the dryer to trap the possum and then she called animal control, panicked and in tears.
"Hello, this is animal control," said the dispatch. "Oh God, please, I need you to help me. I'm all alone," said mom, weeping. "What seems to be the problem miss?" Mom could hear the possum gnawing on the cardboard, trying to escape.
"I have a possum behind my dryer. I have it trapped but it is trying to get out. Please, please, send somebody over as soon as possible. I'm all by myself.""We have a backlog tonight ma'am. It will be several hours, but we'll do the best we can."
Mom was on the verge of hysterics. "No! No! No! I can't. I can't. Please, it has to be sooner. Please, I'm begging you." "We'll do the best we can ma'am. Give me your name, phone number, and address, and we'll send agents as soon as they are free."
Mom gave the dispatch her information and hung up. She grabbed a broom and began to stand guard in front of the dryer. Every few minutes she pushed the cardboard deeper to keep the possum corralled. All night she stood guard until animal control showed up several hours later. Agents lured the possum into a trap, took the trap outside, and released the possum back into the wild.
Mom watched, frazzled and tired, wondering how her life had turned out the way it had. Now here are a few interesting questions to ask about this whole scenario.
Was animal control underfunded and understaffed? Should cat doors be outlawed? Was there an out-of-control possum infestation in her neighborhood that required government action? I guess it depends on who you ask.
But here is something to keep in mind that is often underappreciated. Each and every one of us lives anecdotally. We can only experience our own lives. Our perception is inherently limited to the sensory organs attached to our own bodies. Each and every one of us is literally at the center of our own little world.
However, societal decision making is statistical. Somebody gathers up all the incidents and analyzes the data to decide whether public resources are more well spent in one place versus another.
Is it better to hire more teachers and buy more school supplies?
Or is it better to hire animal control agents and buy more possum traps?
Or is it better to fight a war?
It depends on what's going on in the world. Here in the United States, these kinds of things are more or less decided democratically.
If a sole, haggard, traumatized victim of a possum intrusion casts the only vote in favor of increased spending on animal control, her side will lose the contest. This will feel like an outrage to her because she lived through the nightmare. On the other hand, the majority of folks will wonder why that was even on the ballot in the first place.
As long as we are human beings living on planet Earth, there will never be a utopia. Weather alone ensures that.
Northern Peru flooded under several feet of water earlier this year.
A buddy of mine in Buffalo was under 5 feet of snow for several days last year.
Hurricanes never stop blowing.
This is a world of scarce resources. There will never be a time when there aren't tradeoffs. The ways available for managing tradeoffs on a large scale are democracy or dictatorship. That is pretty much what it comes down to.
I had a college professor tell me that a benevolent dictator was likely the best form of government because the person would always act in the best interest of society as a whole. That means making high integrity, honest, statistical decisions.
Of course, any dictatorial institution is suspect because you might get a malevolent dictator in disguise.
So that leaves us with democracy as the best option.
We all cast a vote based mostly on our anecdotal experiences and then a statistical outcome emerges. It isn't perfect because the world isn't perfect, but what else is there?
That being the case, it appears most sensible to accept democratic decisions with as much good cheer as you can muster. That's not always easy because having a possum in your bed really sucks. Moving on without any sense of resolution is painful. But you can't live your whole life fretting over something that is out of your hands.
If a thing has been decided in a pretty fair albeit imperfect way, it's probably best to put it behind you and keep moving forward.That is what my mom did, and she has made a full emotional recovery.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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