Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Given A Choice...

I spent Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry downtown. It's a great place to spend time and i don't think i every tire of going there. In one exhibit glorifying the entrepreneurs and technological leaders of the past, a sign was posted with these aphorisms:

  1. If anything can go wrong, Fix it!!! (To hell with Murphy!)
  2. When given a choice — Take Both!!
  3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  4. Start at the top then work your way up.
  5. Do it by the book ... but be the author!
  6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  7. If you can't beat them, join them, then beat them.
  8. If it's worth doing, it's got to be done right now.
  9. If you can't win, change the rules.
  10. If you can't change the rules, then ignore them.
  11. Perfection is not optional.
  12. When faced without a challenge, make one.
  13. "No" simply means begin again at one level higher.
  14. Don't walk when you can run.
  15. Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary.
  16. When in doubt: THINK!
  17. Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.
  18. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
  19. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  20. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!

At first glance i love these. The exemplify the never give up, shoot for the stars, always chase your dreams point of view that one part of my brain never tires of reading about. At second and third glance i still like them, even though about the time the third glance starts to make its appearance i am having doubts about some of them.

When i sit down and let myself think about them, getting past the fist-pumping, Yeah! Go for it stage, i see many things that i worry about.

If you can't win, change the rules? Maybe years and years of trial and error have shown that the rules in place need to be there for a reason. Maybe there are unseen consequences if the rules aren't followed. Of course, when the rules have been put in place to protect those that don't wish to be challenged, then they need to be broken. Or when the rules are results of beliefs, dogma, and ideologies that are frozen in time, unchangeable because the believers just can't, or don't want to, imagine other possibilities, ... then these need to be challenged as well. In other words, this aphorism should really be, If you can't win, change the rules if you can — but only after thoroughly understanding what they are and why they were put in effect in the first place.

The squeaky wheel gets replaced? That's absurd in a great many cases. Everyone knows (or should know) that dissent is absolutely essential to any successful organization. Blocking out, getting rid of, any and all dissent, opposing viewpoints & opinions, any ideas about the future, leads to certain death. Working from a portfolio of different, and sometimes opposing, ideas, is where the best ideas come from and where the best successes grow from.

I won't go through all of them, i leave it up to you to think them through. But as a last thought, i was reminded of the one that says "Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary" last night in yoga class. As we all know The Affordable Care Act took it's next step yesterday as the health care exchanges were opened for business here in the US.

One of the women in class last night made it very clear that she is absolutely opposed to Obamacare. Her words were, in effect, that while she understood the need for more people to have health care, she did not want to pay 50% of her salary in taxes so that those people could get it.

Ignoring the question of where she came up with that 50% figure, i wonder about her relationship with yoga. Yes, it's true that a great, great many people who do yoga think of it as nothing more than asana practice. And, yes it's true that i have only had one yoga teacher so can't say what goes on in other yoga classes around the world. But, i assume that my class is typical in that the teacher brings at least a little of the philosophy of yoga to each class. I assume that anyone who does yoga is exposed to at least a little of the spiritual side of the practice. No?

But, even more than that, whether your spiritual leanings are yoga/Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islam, whatever, how can you not go to bed and cry at night when you catch yourself saying in public, 'Yes, i understand that everyone needs health care, but my personal gain and prosperity should not be affected in any way to provide that.'

How can you not find yourself sobbing in your pillow when you suddenly realize that you have let yourself drift so far that your personal benefit is more important than the benefit of society as a whole. That your material prosperity is more important than the health and welfare of those less fortunate. That you shouldn't have to surrender one iota in order to help those less fortunate.

How can you not be wracked with guilt when you realize that what you are saying, publicly, is, in effect, 'I don't care if they do get sick and die, that's not my problem. My problem is increasing my own wealth, prestige, and power.'

Is The Affordable Care Act the best solution? I doubt it; but it's a start. And this country will be immeasurably better off when everyone realizes that we will be better people, a better country, a better society, when helping others isn't just mindlessly throwing a couple of quarters in someone's styrofoam cup, but getting rid of styrofoam and finding ways to actually help others — even if that means a bureaucracy is involved and even if my personal gain will be affected.

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