Friday, March 28, 2008

The Beginning of the End

Anybody paying attention to the local discussions in Hawaii have been aware for a long time that things are not working well -- but they keep electing the same “leaders” to prevent any improvement, and so there is no wonder why things are failing, but now, nothing seems to be working anymore. The mistaken presumption is that things “have to” work -- because we simply want (demand) them to, rather than that anybody has to do anything to actually make things work. We think we are owed that just for being alive and breathing -- that somebody else should be taking care of us, and we should no longer have to do anything ourselves, because we have reached full seniority rights to do nothing but tell everrybody else how to live.

When a whole culture (society) thinks the same thing at the same time, it is a prescription for certain extinction -- which nobody will stand in the way of preventing. Societies and cultures have a right to die when they no longer serve a purpose for which they were conceived -- which is to improve one’s chances of survival in a perilous world of unexpected challenges. But those cultural responses, cannot just be entirely arbitrary and capricious, because eventually, the bulk of choices that do matter and make a difference, disappear and leave only the arbitrary and capricious -- to rule the day. Then, there is no organizing principle or sense of order, and everything is chaos and anomie.

That is a confused and dysfunctional person’s idea of paradise -- that nothing makes sense anymore, and they are no longer inhibited by order and the laws they engender -- and that there is a reason for doing things, and not just everyone doing their own thing -- as it is in a :mental” ward.

Heaven is where everything makes sense and is connected to everything else -- in a unity of purpose and economy; hell is where nothing makes sense and nothing is connected to anything else, and everything disintegrates as soon as one gazes upon it. Societies can have that design and purpose -- but they will not last long. They must give way to more powerful missions of organization and purpose.

One can’t just build a railroad where nobody lives thinking that someday, somebody will. Even urban planners should realize by now, that often, the best laid plans of mice and men go astray -- and they can’t simply make things happen the way they envision because they wish it so enough and think it is a good idea. Other unanticipated forces come into play -- and why the natural history and evolution of progress frequently surprises those who think the future will simply be the past repeated.

Some things happen that change the course of history and development -- not unexpectedly. Many see it unfolding before catastrophes are revealed in their full-blown majesty and warn that things must change or there will be the inevitable consequences. As long as they are spared, they think such warnings and misgivings are untrue -- and further abuses are warranted. Finally, everything is pushed beyond the limits of recovery and becomes unglued -- and there is a plunge into total and unrelenting meaninglessness and purposelessness.

That is the will of the people, until they decide they want something other -- but those who desire order and steady purpose, have moved on to find it, rather than contracting the same despair of everybody else -- that it doesn’t make a difference, and so one needs only to do whatever one can get away with -- as the only law in that society, that is not long for this earth.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Leading By Example

Good leaders aren’t those who tell everybody else what to do, so they alone can go on doing whatever it is they want to do, without competition and other people getting in their way. Because they are leaders rather than followers, they are the first to do what everybody else is not doing yet -- but will make increasing sense to do with the passing of time. That is the unmistakable quality of leadership -- and not the person behind, at the back of the pack, urging, pushing, and prodding those under them to do those things they themselves do not dare until everybody else has gone before them.

Unfortunately, that has been what we’ve come to know as “leadership” in Hawaii because people are fearful of not conforming and standing alone -- and in this way, nothing new can ever come into being, particularly from our leaders. They instead, will wait until somebody else tells them what to do -- and they resist all the way, because that is not how things have been done before, and they think the preservation of the old ways, is what it means to be a leader in any society, instead of those breaking new ground -- so that the many others can follow.

That is the problem of this culture -- and many others that have come before it, and disappeared entirely so that no traces of it having once existed, remain. Such was the case of the Polynesian culture of Easter Island, of which all that is known of its civilization, are identical stone images -- and nothing else. The people and their culture just vanished from the face of the earth.

The real value of diversity is the hope that somebody will do something different -- and provide another option for the members of that society, so all do not perish when confronted by a challenge for which their response is unvaryingly the same, even if unsuccessful and inadequate -- doing the same thing over and over again, but hoping for a different result. Somebody, hopefully, will have the bright idea to try something different, something unimaginable, going beyond the limits of that known and familiar universe that is now the source of only hopelessness, despair and futility.

The rationalizations, explanations and theories of what is going wrong may change with each new politician for office, but things still go wrong, rather than right. The rationalization for why things go wrong, is not the same as making things go right -- without the need for such rationalizations, explanations, apologies. That is what people come to expect in healthy, well-functioning societies -- because they are willing to consider all the options until they find something that works, and not merely settle on the first “solution,” and repeat that unvaryingly, hoping that one day it will work. Such is the mark of a pre-scientific society -- even though they may have universities, governments, institutions and high officials decorated daily and paid homage (and tribute) for their great wisdom and knowledge.

Oftentimes, the solution proposed for some of Hawaii’s great difficulties, is that if one doesn’t like it, they should just leave -- rather than try to change it. That is usually said, as a threat to accept things as they are, uncomplainingly, thinking that leaving is an impossibility because of the impossible distance to anywhere else. Only now, there is the miracle of jet planes as well as the Internet and cell phones to transport one to venues elsewhere at merely the thought of such possibilities. Yet the age-old sentinels and inquisitors of the status quo, will thereby pronounce, that one is “disqualified,” whenever one exercises an option, any other than their exclusive expectation.

That is freedom from the known. and limited -- into today’s world of finding out about everything one wishes to, even if it means leaving the “paradise,” one is told to believe one lives in. That’s how the world changes, one person at a time -- which is the only meaningful reality, and not all this nonsense about a perfect world, if only everybody conforms to the political correctness of those who desire absolute control and conformity as the only way it can ever be.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mistaking the Cost of Living for Quality of Life

It takes more than warm weather to make a paradise. Paradise is mostly about culture, and the personalities that culture produces. A lot of self-absorbed people justify what they do as being for everybody else, when obviously, the only beneficiary is themselves -- at the expense of every other. But that does not prevent them in the least from thinking and talking about the great sacrifices they are making for everybody else. For such people, whatever they want , is the only justice, and there is no greater concept of societal good.

We see that in the thoughtless way people will enjoy a resource and then destroy it for the next guy -- or even how many think the roads and sidewalks are for their exclusive use only, and screw everybody else! Doing good only for one’s family and friends while having no consideration for any others, is not any better than doing these things only for oneself, because obviously, such acts are for one’s own benefit, in a more calculating way.

The beginning of enlightened civilization, is the thought that everybody deserves the good fortune and well-being equally with any other -- even if they will never meet or benefit from that contact -- and not just their own family and friends, they can control. That latter manner of thinking is still the primitive notion of society -- which perpetuates the injustices of present day Hawaii, even as the people in power, shifts every now and then. But always and still, there is that underlying injustice that as long as one’s friends and family is taken care of, one can remain in power (control) for as long as one can before it is noticed and arouses the next overthrow.

For that reason, tyrannies fall throughout the history of civilization and progress, and do not persist unchallenged throughout eternity. Better social arrangements arise to challenge them -- in their own way. The challenge to the old, is not just a challenge to see the new king of the same social and governmental arrangement. The real challenge to the old, is a whole new way of thinking about the social hierarchies and its perpetuated injustices.

That change is not merely political, but fundamental and transformational; that society is never the same, with only a discussion of the new personalities on top. That, fundamentally, doesn’t matter. Only deep, lasting change within the structure of society, is progress and improvement, and not simply consuming all society’s resources in the struggle to see who is on top. In such a culture, all the energies go to defeating all the other energies and efforts to get to the top. And so while the cost of such activities are high, escalating and unlimited, it does not result in an increased wealth of everyone contributing and being enriched by that participation in that culture.

Thus, increasingly many “drop out,” thinking it is no longer worthwhile to exert themselves for diminishing benefits. They are the proverbial “homeless,” as well as the many others who will leave in a more tangible and emphatic way. Demagogues may even encourage and foster the disenfranchisement of the least powerful into believing they have no right to expect any benefits in participating in that culture except to give them all their money -- and bring back more.

Those lessons are learned and reinforced early on, on the playgrounds of government schools, by bullies demanding “More,” increasingly and incessantly more, because they cannot share -- which is the value and measure of every great culture and society, and not simply how much everything costs, and therefore, how much one self-serving clique should be paid -- at the expense of everybody else.