Language of Politics…

This should probably be more properly titled “The Mystery of the Missing Dollar and the Language of Politics.”  A family member called me last night with the old math puzzle about the three men splitting the cost of a hotel room for the night.  As the puzzle goes, three men pay $27, $9 each, towards a hotel room for the night.  After the guests go up to their room the desk clerk realizes he’s charged them too much and sends the bellboy up with $5, the amount of the overcharge, to return to the men.  The bellboy, believing he is underpaid, pockets $2 on his way up, and gives the men back $3, $1 each. So the men have paid $24 (3 times $8 each) plus the $2 in the bellboy’s pocketed, which is $26.  Where is the missing dollar, as the original price of the room was $27?

Obviously the flaw is in the phrase, “plus the $2 in the bellboy’s pocketed.”  The $2 in the bellboy’s pocket is already part of the $24 that the three men paid altogether, so it would be nonsensical to add it to anything.  The men paid $24, $22 of which made it to the hotel till, and $2 of which ended up in the bellboy’s pocket.  It is a good example, however, of an exploit vulnerability we seem to have, a vulnerability which the politicians are quite adept at employing to get us to believe anything.  All it takes is for them to keep talking, presenting numbers and “facts” in a tone of voice or format that would lead a person to believe that they know what they’re talking about, and we nod our heads, and accept it.

What Disturbs Me…

ταράσσει τοὺς ἀνθρώπους οὐ τὰ πράγματα, ἀλλὰ τὰ περὶ τῶν πραγμάτων δόγματα. (Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.)

This is a hard one to really wrap your head around.  It’s easy enough to understand and agree with what he’s saying; don’t get me wrong. When you really think about what it is requiring of each of us, we tend to balk.  A close friend of mine stopped me the other day and enlightened me with a saying she had been given; basically, it wasn’t the task ahead of her that was inherently hard, but the way she was looking at it.  Although I’d pointed out Epictetus’ look on it before, it never really sank in, apparently.

Since it all boils down to being responsible for our own happiness, I suspect that laziness might play a role in our convenient ability to forget that it is our view of the thing, not the thing itself, which causes us unease.  It somehow seems like it is less work to assign fault to others, or circumstances, or any other thing outside of ourselves, than to just accept that things are as they are, deal with life on life’s terms, and move on.  Thus, it would seem, acceptance plays a primary role.