Thorny

There is a OpEd in the New York Times by Alfie Kohn on the topic “Do Our Kids Get Off Too Easy?

But when you point out the absence of logic or evidence, it soon becomes clear that trophy rage is less about prediction — what will happen to kids later — than ideology: — how they ought to be treated now. Fury over the possibility that kids will get off too easy or feel too good about themselves seems to rest on three underlying values.

The article is very much worth reading, as it identifies the belief systems people apply to this concern, ideas that are not based in any reality of how the world is but rather in the projection of how we have been lead to believe the world should be.

I was watching a clip from Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on Jerusalem where one contributor compared the state of the middle east to a complex sandwich, full of contrasts, that shouldn’t work but does.   Everything, he said, looks simple and easy to understand from a distance, but up close, the complexity is not only daunting, it is what makes the situation work.

I am seeing this process at work in many places.  People who aren’t actually charged with the details of making something work, who don’t actually have to execute it, see it from a distance and then feel entitled to impose their own ideology onto the situation, to project their own assumptions which are completely untested in the real situation as it is.

A gal has been holding a book discussion group, but now other people who haven’t been regularly participating are explaining how the group should be run, wanting to switch it up or to add levels of complexity that make the thing much harder to execute.

The world, I have found is a thorny place.  Those roses may look lovely from a distance, but go to rearrange them and you are very likely to find yourself bloodied by thorns that were hiding in plain sight.  When you pull on one stem, others are pulled, a thicket of connections that raise up defences and challenges that can’t really be understood until you plunge in and feel the contrary pulls.

There is an easy answer for every situation, easy and satisfying and utterly wrong.  If the answer looks too simple, you have clearly not understood the situation.   The notion that those struggling with challenges are doing so because they don’t understand the simple ideology that you possess which would cut through all the complexities and nuances to solve the problem quickly is just the dream of distance, not the brilliance of the superior mind.

It may be true that a new solution requires a new level of thinking, a different approach to the problem that reveals where things were getting stuck, but it is doubtful that new approach can come from just applying the answer that your ideology says should be right.

The real world, I have found, is thorny, and until we are blooded by our brush with it, we cannot understand the complexity.

Those who want the world and people in it to conform to their ideology of how things should be, though, don’t really get this message.  They pontificate without respect and compassion because they separate themselves from the actual struggle to get things done.

And they make the ones actually struggling with thorny problems lose heart.

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