Having survived the past four years in this nation, I will never again underestimate the power of The Dot Principle!
In June, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States issued its landmark decision regarding the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry. This event was a hot topic of conversation the next day at the office where I worked. At the time, I participated in a walking group; we spent our breaks and sometimes part of our lunch hours getting a bit of exercise by striding briskly through the wide halls and many stairwells of the Indiana state office building, happily (and noisily, according to my boss) gossiping as we did so.
On the morning in question, as it happened, only two of us were walking. Turning to me with a bewildered look on her face, my walking partner—let’s call her Dot–remarked, “They said on the news last night that gay marriage is now the law in all 50 states. But what about the other two?”
I was, of course, confused. “The other two what?”
I’m certain my face must have done that “eyes-rolling-to one side-lips-twisting” thing which indicates complete incredulity. “Uh, Dot, there are only 50 states. Forty-eight contiguous states, and Alaska and Hawaii.”
“But I’ve always heard there are 52,” she persisted.
“Uh, no.” At her look of skepticism, I continued, “There’s the District of Columbia—DC,” I explained. “It is separate from the States. But not a state. And there are possessions and territories. Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands…” I trailed off as she continued to look disbelieving. “There are 50 stars on the flag, one for each State,” I persevered bravely, finally surrendering as Dot just shrugged.
Dot, a few years older than I (and I was nearing retirement), had, I believe, a couple of years of college under her belt; an Associates Degree, as opposed to my high school-only education. She’d been born a citizen of the United States. English was her natal language.
But she didn’t know how many States comprise the union.
I’ve looked back on that rather terrifying conversation many times in the past four years, realizing, “Not only do they walk among us, but they vote!”
I now apply “The Dot Principle” to about 75% of the comments I torture myself by reading at the close of articles when I check the news each morning. (Do NOT ask me why I put myself through this. I can only surmise that I am a masochist.) In any case, I usually peruse the comments. While doing so, I remind myself that, not only are the Dots of this nation supremely ignorant, but they are astoundingly unafraid in displaying that ignorance to a cringing populace. They are utterly confident in the correctness of their outrageous assertions. No matter what facts are presented, the Dots will not be budged from their convictions, preferring their “alternative facts”. Ill-spelled, and displaying mangled grammar and mutilated sentence structure, riddled with hateful name-calling and, above all, a dearth of knowledge and factual information, and inevitably peppered with ALL CAPS BECAUSE I’M SHOUTING AT YOU SINCE THAT WILL MAKE YOU BELIEVE ME, they troll the pathways of the Comments sections, providing cheap entertainment when one is not too aghast at the remarks to enjoy the show.
The Dot Principle provided me just a smidgen of reassurance when I read, shocked and appalled, about the Q-Anon Conspiracy. As much as I enjoy a good conspiracy theory–and I really do enjoy them; some are quite masterful in their depositions, and nearly convincing–as much as I admire the enormous work that goes into constructing these mangled theories that fly in the face of reality and plain old common sense, I don’t genuinely find myself being sucked in. I tell myself this means I am not a Dot; that I still have a few neurons firing, if not so many as I once had when young.
Having been in ascension for four long, painful years, the Dots of this nation are now stunned, brimming with new conspiracy theories, furious and disbelieving that their construct of reality has somehow crumbled, as that nail-biter of an election finally concluded with the overwhelming popular vote and electoral college selection of Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States of America. Nevertheless, as I pointed out to a fuming and incredulous acquaintance, one could consider this just the swing of the pendulum. “Give it four years, and, who knows—maybe you can elect Jared Kushner or Trump Jr. or Eric Trump or even, saints preserve us, Ivanka,” I suggested. (On the other hand, maybe not, since I devoutly hope and expect that most of that crew of con men/women, slum lords, Hatch Act violators, and tax evaders will be languishing in prison.)
But having lived through the last four years in this nation, I will never again underestimate the power of The Dot Principle.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy the essay, “The Benefit of the Doubt”, which you can locate in the Archives from July 31, 2019.