Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Change we can't believe in

Someone asked me a question last night and then accused me of not answering when I asked for clarification, context and other defining elements. The truth is, I find questions difficult to answer because I see complexity in them. The motivation of the asker plays a large role as does the meaning of particular words and ideas. Men know this intuitively -- when a woman asks "does this dress make me look fat?" or "I don't know; what do YOU want to do?" we know that there is more than meets the eye.

See, the thing is, everything is more complex that it seems and only simple people don't understand that. So when simple people ask a question, they may sincerely mean it as a simple question, so they expect a simple answer. But simple answers are almost always wrong. Is the quest for complexity to problematic because it injects a mode of confusion in everyday discourse? Sure, but it is more honest.

The same holds true for protestable moments. Are we concerned about the 1% who have all that cash and the 99% who have less? Yes. Is there a simple answer that a protest can bring about? No. Are we being foolish wasting our resources on "occupying" a city park? Yes. Is there a better way to bring about change? No.

The thing is, change is difficult if it is to be real. Change is upheaval. Change is revolution. Change means a real shift in an underlying paradigm. And we don't want that kind of change. We want a simple alteration which will solve everything. If we don't like how are system has ended up, then we need to revamp, nay remove the ENTIRE SYSTEM. Our system of capitalism and corruption has worked just fine for so long. If we now turn around and say "hey! How come no one ever tried to bribe ME?" then what we have to say, in order to be honest, is "the entire system is flawed and we need to abandon it and start over. I'll still be poor, our entire economy and culture will crumble but if we start over, in 250 years, we won't be in this mess."

And I don't want that. It is nice to say change, but we can't stand the pains of starting over which real change would require.

I was in the store today and I saw some eco-friendly drain cleaner. I happen to be in the market for some drain cleaner as I have a drain which needs cleaning. My brand of choice is rife with nasty chemicals and harsh products which blast the clog out, beat it up and go after its family. But those chemicals, once loosed on the pipes, do the job. So this eco stuff claims that it is not harmful to the pipes or nature or furry animals. So I started reading the bottle, thinking globally, but willing to act septicly. The instructions indicated that I should pour a quarter of the bottle into the drain every night for 5 nights. Ignoring that this would mean that I have to buy 2 bottles, it meant that the drain would not be unclogged until next week. It even cautioned me that the drain would run slower in the short term. This is proof that the product is working.

So if I want to save the earth, I have to lose the convenience of a product which gets the job done on my schedule. It is the same for so many other "healthy" options. If I want organic food, I have to pay more. If I want to go to an organic cleaner, I have to drive farther from my house, or have a longer turn around time on my clothes. Drive an electric car? Find a plug, have less acceleration and shorter range. These are trade offs because, for there to be real change, we have to abandon our time honored practices and make do with less.

Are we really ready to go through rebirthing pangs and growth pains again? We would be crippled in the world market, vulnerable to our enemies and not nearly as cool in the eyes of the hot girls.

True fact.

So I say "yay for the 1%! May I have my bribe now?"

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