Friday, May 11, 2012

95. Dissonance

Yesterday, I returned from a meeting to find C.W. in the middle of the living room floor with a complete circle of books and notes scattered around him. He had taken on the appearance of a young woman, apparently in the midst of studying some subject. I noticed a couple of Bibles among the reference material.

She looked up at me and smiled. “Mr. uh, Big Dope, I presume.”

“What’s up?”

“My teacher said that I could use your library to prepare my term paper.”

“What’s going on, C.W.?” I said.


“On what?”

“Cognitive dissonance. Are you familiar with the term?”


“Well, I am confused, sir,” she said, maintaining the persona. Perhaps you can help me.”

Past experience has taught me it is useless to resist when C.W. is on his game. “Perhaps,” I said.

“Well,” she said, reaching for a sheet of paper filled with notes. “It says here that ‘cognitive dissonance’ describes the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs.”

“Yes, and?”

“I don’t’ find that your species evidences any discomfort at all accommodating two conflicting beliefs.”

I sat. This might be a long evening and my wife was expecting me to meet her somewhere. “And what makes you think that?”

She reached for one of the Bibles. “This Jesus,” she said. “Don’t your people worship him as an ideal?”

“So it is said.”

“Seems to me he was kind and thoughtful, and loved everyone except rich people, divorcees, bankers, and other preachers.”

“Pretty much so.”

“So, a great many of your citizens idealize him?”

So it is said.”

“But then they base their political beliefs on some of most mean-spirited people on your planet.” She paused. “I mean, are you familiar with this sheriff out in Arizona?”


“Or this …,” she paused and referred to a note. “Grover Norquist?” She grabbed another note before I could answer. “Ever heard of Franklin Graham or Clarence …?”

“The list goes on,” I interrupted.

“Want to read something beautiful?” she said.

“Sure,” I said. I was glad to change the direction of the conversation and fully expected the Sermon on the Mount.”

“Here,” she said. She handed me a worn and crumpled page of photocopied material. I looked at it and saw our country’s Bill of Rights.

“I think you have something here,” I said.

“But why …?” she asked, “Has your species always maintained a subset of your fellow humans to which its protections didn’t apply?” She smiled as if she knew a secret.

“We have made mistakes,” I said. My voice dropped as I said it and I knew I sounded lame.

These kids sang me the most
beautiful rendition of
"Jesus Loves Me." - C.W.
“Have made?” she said, reaching for another sheet of photocopy.”

Even before she touched it, I could see the words “Amendment One” printed across the top.

“I have to go,” I said.

“Your mind seems to be playing ping-pong,” she said. “Enjoy the game.”

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