Plodding Toward Progress

Slow ProgressWe have a tendency to set goals and get tunnel vision – we see everything directly between ourselves and the goal.

Yet everything directly between us and the goal is connected to other things, and those things to other. We forget the circumstances, the environment, through which we try to progress. There is more in our way than we find directly in front of us, and there is more that can help that is not directly in front of us or behind us.

This is the real world – not some facsimile that they teach about when they hand out diplomas and certificates, but a world interconnected. These days, the interconnections themselves are accelerating. Writers have tackled this over the decades, trying to communicate that the world is getting Faster.

Most recently, I’ve finished reading Friedman’s, “Thank You For Being Late” – an appropriate title as I’ve been making my way through various things in Trinidad and Tobago, a nation where bureaucracy can be harvested and exported. On a global level, ‘thought-leaders’, predominantly of the developed world, have the luxury of seeing things above the clouds of the developing world.

And they write about it.

And it’s disconnected from the rest of the world – even people in their own countries.

There’s this growing tension because of that which I would like to think could be healthy – where people aspire toward such lofty goals. And yet, the same ‘thought-leaders’ don’t understand the world that they live in as much as the world they are familiar with – just like everybody else. Reality defies us. And that content spreads like a wildfire around the globe, right or wrong, good or bad, and people see it through their tunnel vision.

We all want things to be better. The problems arise when we don’t agree on what’s better.

The tunnel, though, comes to define people when the world is larger than the tunnel. Where stopping now and then and looking around makes us aware of more possibilities. Where we are not limited to or defined by what we’ve done before. Where we can find a small effort indirectly can bring us so much closer to our goals.

Where even the systems we use to define how we get to our goals should be constantly suspect.

We plod forward when we should dance toward.

Prediction.

Coyote Head NebulaEvery morning, waking, checking the sky for the weather even before the sun rises, every morning a little different – patterns emerge.

Weather forecasts are fairly useless so close to the coast, the fickle winds battling between a small landmass and a large.  Radar tells you what is, not what will be – it tells you things on a macro scale, it doesn’t tell you about what happens around you.

Wake up early enough, and on a morning where there will likely be no rain, you can see stars. On mornings where this is not true, they hide behind the Earth’s visual blanket of clouds, sometimes with the winds shifting them like living inkblots.

Prediction.  Deciding how to proceed. There is no question that one must proceed, as in life. There is no perfect set of circumstances, there are only circumstances you can proceed in – and the question is whether you wish to proceed or not; the answer is how you can make conditions something you can proceed in.

Wrevolution

See as time goes by ...“That we were slaves I had known all my life–and nothing could be done about it. True, we weren’t bought and sold–but as long as Authority held monopoly over what we had to have and what we could sell to buy it, we were slaves.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

A sullen young man with ideas once wanted to change the world, wanted to be a part of the progress based on a vision of the future – like many young men, ideally like all young men. What young person doesn’t want to make the world a better place?

But what, exactly, is a better place? A measure of environment is in order – unless part of the financially elite, the view out of the front door of the house walked out of is to trade time for a dream – and a social narrative impacts that dream. Maybe it’s a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 children – the latter being painful for women, so I imagine they round down. Maybe it’s simply not to be living from paycheck to paycheck like a single parent might, maybe it’s to go to college because the social narrative told you to. Maybe it’s to join the military to get ahead – trading time, sweat and the potential for blood for a narrated step up.

The economy is the manager you work for, the company store will sell you everything you can afford to forget your manager is fickle and controlled by algorithms and people who don’t care that you spend your life being a productive member of society. But what is productive? Is productive for a corporate entity the same as productive for yourself? If you care for a system, does the system care back? When’s the last time a bureaucracy gave you a hug, made you feel warm and fuzzy? When’s the last time a corporate logo stopped by and told you a joke? When’s the last time you didn’t feel defensive in a world so easily offended? When the world twists you, it still wants you to be useful.

Time. We measure ourselves in time. Some say time is money, but all things being relative, how much value does your time have? The sand runs down the clock while you try to climb up it and eventually, you get tired. Some people go longer than others, climbing to different heights, having started from different heights, but unless you claw your way to the top of the sand in the upper chamber, you’re covered in sand – and if you, somehow, find yourself on top of the pile… you find yourself being sucked down the hole as you stand on that foundation of sand.

That, too, is how we measure revolution – not the violent upheavals that sometimes come with it which we keep as landmarks in history books, but the things that lead up to them that aren’t as interesting because they lack the prerequisite blood, and maybe sex, that keeps people enthralled. One person’s death seems to be more important than the saved lives of hundreds, if you follow the modern media – the bloodier the better.

One hand onlyRevolution isn’t the upheaval, the violent revolutions only happening when peaceful revolutions are too improbable. The clock of sand isn’t based on gravity; it’s an ellipse drawn in the sand. It’s the snake that eats itself, Ouroboros. Pi has little meaning here, it’s all relative.

Revolution is a process, change being inevitable. The latin root of the word, revolutio, is ‘a turn around’ – but that isn’t seen between the landmarks in history that are taught in schools; the precis version given of blood and sex – not sweat, not changing minds, not the small things that creep through societies connecting people. The revolutions have been televised since there was television, the revolutions are happening right now. Not all are good, not all are bad – and the moral relativism that makes people fight over them is about as meaningful as the change itself.

Tyrants only bleed when the masses have bled, but the only tyrants that exist are those that are allowed by the masses.

“Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

 

The balance of society is never centered, it’s always moving one way or the other, shifting in the sand. And this is why it’s folly to pursue revolution as an end, as an absolute, as a goal. In youth and through age, most do not know this, passions fueled by the change that they want to see in the world when…

Well, the world doesn’t really care. It doesn’t need to be saved; it doesn’t want to be saved. All that can be done is to make the revolutions peaceful.

And that means not being a jerk.

 

The Fish Monger

fishmongerWe don’t understand very much, and we’re not particularly good at anything other than multiplying. It’s a dark and ugly thing to say for those who don’t see the cracks in their worlds, pasted together by faith in what they have been taught to have faith in. That faith isn’t necessarily religious – in fact, most fervor doesn’t seem to be.

Underneath this umbrella of faith that shields us from reality, we live these lives of quiet desperation that Thoreau wrote about, becoming the tools of our tools. A fish can live in a system – a school, oddly enough – and survive long enough to procreate without being pressed into conformity: Lack of conformity means death by predator. Humanity is it’s own predator, where what is good for some is not good for others, where tribes divide more than they collect. Lilliputians, all.

We teach children to seek out happiness, to seek out security through financial instruments and societal connections even at the cost of principle – because principle is relative to how bad someone wants something.

When one looks beyond all this, seeing it for what it is and all the nuances that come from it, it’s hard not to be angry, hard not to be frustrated or depressed – unless, of course, you already have some security. We hold together our lives sometimes only by strength of will… and our society does the same, but our societies around the world do not have the will to maintain the present systems because the majority with less security do not feel the need. Security and the need for change are not directly proportional. It is what it is.

The fish in the center of the ball of fish are the most safe from predators… but the net catches them all the same.

What a strange aquarium we live in.

Silent Tiers of Sea Ghosts

six years of imprisonmentWe are all

Doing things we do not like,
Holding ourselves from those around us,
Living within the bounds we have chosen,
Chasing things we do not need.

We are all
Castaways from our own lives,
Derelicts from those around us,
Captives within the prisons of our own choosing,
Wandering hungry ghosts within those prisons.

We are all

Choosing how we are castaways,
Who we are separate from and by how much,
Architects of our own views,
Engineers of our own hunger…

And we all
Make our own keys and
Steer our destinies.