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Last week I was sitting in a meeting listening to a man talk at great length about a topic of which he was profoundly ignorant.

There’s a lot of that going around these days.

I can never quite make up my mind about how to handle times like this. On one hand, I hate arguing in public (I hate arguing in private even more) and I’m always tempted to just let people ramble until they wear down. Why make a public spectacle of myself by starting an argument? Plus, there’s a chance I’m wrong and if I listen patiently, I might be convinced of the error of my ways.

On the other hand, there were a lot of people in the room and when a stupid statement hangs in the air long enough, some folks begin to think it’s the truth. That happens a lot these days, as well.

Always a dilemma.

He finally said something that was way over the top, even for him, and I opened my mouth for a rebuttal. Then I realized this would only extend the conversation. It would be like asking a dentist, “Hey, is there any way we can make this root canal last a little longer?”

I was trying to keep a poker face – not my best thing – but what I was thinking was, “I wonder why this person is allowed to use up everyone’s air?”

That’s when I remembered a theory that my sister and I came up with. She’d told me about a dinner party she’d attended with one particularly annoying person in attendance. She asked, “Why is it that at every party there’s at least one person whom you find totally annoying?”

I said, “It’s part of Mother Nature’s plan. She’s just helping us out if a tragedy should occur. For instance, your boat sinks and you need to spend three months on a life raft, or you’re trapped in an abandoned mall during a zombie apocalypse, there’s a chance you’ll run out of food. In every large group there will be at least one person no one will miss. So, it's not that he’s a loudmouth making everyone miserable. In case everything goes south, he’s an icebreaker, cannibalism wise.”

It’s not a theory I've heard in many other places, but even though I didn't pay much attention in science class I think I'm on solid footing here. My understanding is that Mother Nature throws a bunch of stuff on the table and if it works out, it gets incorporated into the final plan. If it doesn't...well, saber tooth tigers need to eat, too.

So, giraffes like the tender leaves at the tops of acacia trees and the taller the giraffe, the better the selection of leaves. Keep that up for a few thousand years and you end up with Jerry the Giraffe having a neck ten feet long. Parrots and hummingbirds are both birds, but one can crack nuts and the other can get nectar from inside a flower blossom.

That's what makes me think that there must be a reason ignorant loudmouths still exist. Because while science class didn’t have my undivided attention, I have read a lot of history and it certainly appears that they’ve been with us forever and their numbers are increasing.

Maybe all the rest of us are just a little more patient and forgiving or maybe there's another reason.

So, if you've always thought you and I don't have much in common and I come up and greet you warmly, there's an excellent chance I'm genuinely happy to see you, simply because I am genuinely happy to see almost everyone.

On the other hand, you might want to consider carefully before you climb in a lifeboat with me.

Copyright 2023 Brent Olson

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