January 21, 2013

MUSING: Nothing to Laugh About

I'm very fond of an old tale that illustrates our ability to overlook the simplest solution or address the real problem. It goes as follows*:
The Queen was having a bad day, and was sorely in need of a soothing cup of tea. She ordered the Royal Cook to bring her a cuppa, sat back on her throne to enjoy it, and then made a face. 
"This tea is dreadful!" the Queen pronounced. The Royal Footmen quickly cowered at her feet. "What shall we do, oh most Powerful Queen?" they asked, trembling. 
"Fix it!" the Imperious Queen demanded. The Royal Footmen scurried off, and came back with the Royal Alchemist. The Alchemist was pleased to be offered this challenge. He prepared a powder from several mysterious ingredients, mixed it into the tea and presented the cup back to the Impatient Queen. 
"My powder will balance the bitterness and restore the tea's flavour," promised the Alchemist.
The Queen took a sip. "Ugh!" she said, "The tea is even worse now!" The Alchemist hung his head in disgrace and was ordered to leave. Next the Frantic Footmen brought in the Royal Herbalist, a wise grey-haired woman, who studied the brew and pronounced it too weak. 
"I will add some essence of tree bark," she pronounced, "and this will restore the tea's flavour, which was diluted by the Alchemist's powder." 
The Quirky Queen took a sip. "Bah!" she said, "It's even worse!" The Herbalist was silenced and led away in shame. The Furious Footmen went off in search of another expert. And so it went, with no less than a dozen experts brought in to fix the bad cup of tea, each eager to show off his or her unique cure. Nothing worked, though, and the Footmen became exhausted and discouraged. "What shall we do?" they said, shaking their big heads in wonder.  
Borrowed from www.thememan.co.uk
At that moment, the Court Jester walked in and asked, "What's all the fuss about?" He was told in detail of the many, many attempts to fix the Queen's tea, all ending in disaster. He laughed out loud.
"What is so funny?" the Quirky Queen demanded. A hush fell upon the court. "I demand to know!" she continued, shrieking in that high-pitched way that some leaders are fond of exhibiting. 
The Jovial Jester bowed before the Queen before offering his nimble suggestion: "Why not," he suggested, "Simply make a fresh cup of tea?" 
The Queen was startled by his simple solution. The Royal Cook was summoned, a new cup of tea was brewed, and, as the saying goes - All's well that ends well.

With so many people invested in solutions, sometimes the simplest way is overlooked. I was reminded of this fable when I read the following news article this morning. What would the Jester say to this?


* I can't find the original reference, so I've recreated the tale from memory. 

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