Sometimes I like to step back from the endless rant and try to figure out how to improve my world. It is so easy to complain all the time; it is enormously more difficult to come up with solutions. That is what I find so disheartening about politicians these days: all they want to do is vilify those who don’t agree with them. Then they propose yet another rule to make the whole population conform to their concept of proper behavior, which they know the other side won’t agree with, and won’t pass, and they have yet another subject for vilification.
If they’re not interested in doing the heavy lifting, why did they get into politics in the first place?
This is why I love to plunge myself into the latest science news: those people are so passionate about changing the world, they have really big ideas, and the really good ones know that there is no possible way that they can hope to understand more than the tiniest fraction of this universe, even if they dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge. I spent some of this past weekend immersing myself in the TED Talks marathon on the Science channel, and came out feeling enormously refreshed and heartened.
TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design (go to TED.com for more info). TED offers a smattering of people who have big ideas a platform for passing those big ideas on to others. It is a bright spot in a sea of dismality. It simultaneously offers hope for the future, a warning of how little we know, and some concept of how far we have to go.
Politicians, in contrast, for some reason believe that the answer comes from the push from on high. If they’d studied biology at all, they would know that life will out. We can no more control the minds and behaviors of people over the long run than we can stop mold and mildew from growing in our showers. Yet, politicians continue to try to mold and shape human behavior through enactment of rules and regulations.
Thus, they foist responsibility for the success of society upon its policemen, as though there would ever be enough policemen in the world to force us all to abide by the current rules, let alone all the new ones they want to impose on us. Puzzled by their lack of success in changing fundamental human behavior, the politicians pass more laws, and are similarly astounded when people ignore those rules as well. Even the President ignores the rules he doesn’t like, and if that does not bring home to them the complete futility of this exercise, I don’t know what will.
The main reason that I started this blog (besides the ability to lower my blood pressure by ranting at the entire world, instead of just my TV, and to occupy myself in the wee hours of the morning when every sane person around is still viewing the world from behind closed lids), was to provide a forum for discussion, to spark ideas, to let us roll around big concepts, and let any old thought that happens by its own place in the sun. In all my vast study of the human condition, I’ve found that, while it is possible to change human behavior through force, it is a much better idea to mold thought.
I’m not talking about jack-boot propaganda conditioning, here. I’m talking about enabling people to act with insight and curiosity. I think that the greatest shame of our present method of schooling is that it stifles curiosity. And curiosity is the only thing we’ve got going for us. Kill that, and you’ve destroyed our essential humanity. Enact so many rules that we spend our entire day simply trying to figure out which ones apply to us, how to abide by them, or how to bypass them, and there’s no room left for curiosity.
Curious people do not need to be rude to others. Curious people do not spend a lot of time wondering whether others have dissed them, or offended them. Curious people may wonder where such behavior comes from, and decide to study it, but they do not spend a lot of time attempting revenge for imagined slights.
That is the direction I want my world to go. My most favorite-ist spot in the whole world would be the place where everyone is wandering around, wondering Why? I have more respect for the teenager in Africa who built a windmill for his village out of recycled bicycle parts than for all the celebrities who make millions of dollars but don’t know how to do anything but spend them.
My biggest regret for today is that I don’t have all the answers. I want so badly for the world to be the place of enlightenment that I wish for, and I don’t have the slightest clue how to get there. It’s endlessly frustrating, and made more so by mindless politicians who are more concerned with accreting power to themselves than with improving their children’s world.
I invite everyone who has any idea, good, bad, or half-cocked, to respond. I am begging you, people, give me something to do that is more constructive than hurling shoes at the box on the wall. I have big ideas, lots of them, but I am in need of something that is useful right now. My impatience has the upper rein today, and I want to accomplish something.
This is why I would not make a good scientist. I applaud the long-term goal, but I can’t make myself do the daily nitty-gritty that is required by rigorous science. I have the idea, and I want to move directly to the place where improvement has happened, bypassing all of the testing, evidence-gathering, experimentation, implementation, long-term observation of effects, and day-to-day tweaking. You know, the trivial part.
What can we do today, to get our politicians to work for us, work with us, instead of simply bickering among themselves? Somebody, somewhere, must have a thought. Please share it with the rest of the class.
There will always be time for another rant tomorrow. And I am sure, a suitable subject for it.