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My new anthem, my motto 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Searching online recently for examples of paradoxes to share with one of my students, I found this:

The statement below is false.
The statement above is true.

Interesting, but obvious, and continuing to read, I found: While a father and his son are driving down a winding road, the car hits a tree, and the father is killed. The child is rushed to the hospital for surgery, and the surgeon, seeing the boy, says, “I can’t operate on this child. He’s my son.”

So what’s the scoop? Assuming you’ve never read or seen that before, take a minute to think. Is the above situation possible? If yes, please explain.

Personally, I was thrown for a loop. I thought perhaps there was a stepdad involved. Maybe I’d ignored some legal matter like a blood test or adoption papers. Anyway, if you haven’t already heard it or figured it out, here’s Wikipedia’s explanation: “The apparent paradox is caused by a hasty generalization. If the surgeon is the boy’s father, the statement cannot be true. The paradox is resolved when it is revealed that the surgeon is a woman, the boy’s mother.”

Of course, you being you, you probably got it immediately. But I’ve plugged many of my students and so far only one figured it out, and he didn’t even figure it out. In fact, he didn’t even understand the paradox! He took it for granted that the surgeon had to be the child’s mother. But all my other students (and I’m not talking kids, I mean doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other movers and shakers in society) were baffled.

We are, not all but most of us, pinned like dead butterflies to a child’s insect collection. From the moment we’re born, dogma seals us in a box, practically locks us in a coffin and buries us (mentally) six feet deep as we absorb and then propagate the beliefs and convictions — whether right or wrong, good or bad — of our parents, teachers, politicians, religious leaders, and anyone else who impresses us. Though we are born bare, a nurse whisks us away and places us in an incubator, where the indoctrination begins and we are spoon-fed thoughts and ideas as if they were laws, facts, truths.

Blue is a boy’s color, pink a girl’s color. How does one break out of that box? How do we learn to think our own thoughts? How to recognize propaganda for what it is before Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini emerge?

Ay, there’s the rub.

And so my new anthem, my motto, the final frontier of my life, is to harness some peace of mind. I plan to minimize until invisible, my footsteps lighter than leaves and my thoughts as easy as air. I’ve got a long way to go, I know, but I’ve been making progress. In fact, one of the secrets of my success is wine, I think. I’ve found a rhythm with that liquid. From picking the best ones for the right prices to bringing them home and uncorking them, pouring the wine, drinking it, and then dumping the bottle into the proper recycling bin the following morning. The process repeats the next day, of course, and in a way there’s harmony and wisdom that comes from the spirit of the grape (and the fact it’s fermented), like the draft of a bee’s wing wafting the petals of a blossoming flower. No, Shaw, I’m not invisible yet, but I am starting to blur at the edges.

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