Dealing with unpleasant realities. A straight-minded boss, for instance, for whom empathy isn’t part of the procedural manual, except as an abstract concept. In a satirical treatment, the person would head The Office of Compassion and would attend many meetings where words would be the currency of power. No need to follow through on them outside the codified language of administrative reports. But this would be in a satire. In real life, you’re supposed to pretend satire is nothing but a literary device.
I’m a lousy administrator myself. Always have been. Jean de La Fontaine’s fable about the cicada and the ant never failed to raise my ire as a child. Still does. The ant had been ever-so prudent, you see. A procedural wizard, as efficient as they come. Whereas the cicada had whiled away the summer, singing. Went off to her neighbor the ant, in search of a handout when the cold winds came. No surprise in the ant’s response: You spent the summer singing? Well, you can dance now! (And let me slam my door in your face, while I’m at it. The nerve, the gall, the…)
When I was eight years old, I was supposed to recite this fable at a year-end school pageant but I fell sick instead and never got to wear the cicada’s cardboard wings. (Do real cicadas have wings? I’ll have to check. *The nun in charge of props for the pageant thought they did. She’d even found a toy guitar with no strings I was to pretend strumming. Never happened. C’est la vie.)
Despite the nun in charge of props and her frivolous inclinations, the fable was supposed to teach us the values of thrift and careful planning – God-inspired values. In the current stand-off between the World Bank and the Greek government elected by the Greek people, I assume the non-elected leaders of the so-called Free World consider themselves ant-like, god-like providers of Order. The Word according to Christine Lagarde and True Companions: let the poor suffer some more, they’re used to it and they never learn anyway.
Not that writing stories will do one thing to solve my problems or anyone else’s. Once a cicada, always a cicada I guess. A lot of people find the cicada’s strident strumming annoying. I don’t. How can the sound of summer annoy, especially when you know how cold and miserable autumn and winter can be?
* They do.