Monday, August 8, 2011
I don’t know about you, but when I was in the Ether and they recruited me for this planet, I didn’t realize that I was going to have to work so hard.
I mean, sure, we all have to contribute, but each of us has natural talents, so that shouldn’t be a problem, right? I didn’t understand what they meant by “work.” And it turns out, my lot was a very easy one, by comparison.
As a child, the only work that was available to me was school. Same-for-everyone school. So, I learned the basic training and fed it back to them. Done. But over time I came to understand that was all they wanted, at increasingly complex levels. Learn and feed back.
I saw brilliant people spending hours every day collecting dry cleaning. I saw women with incredible talents for colour and design being scolded for taking too long creating table displays at Zellers. I saw creative geniuses told to build it like that one over there.
I heard, we’ve tried that, it won’t work, they’d never go for it, tone it down, soften it up, don’t rock the boat, don’t push the system, keep your head down, do what we ask you, here’s how it’s done, settle down, settle in, rotate your cog.
I heard people say, you're working too hard, trying too hard, it’s good enough, and good enough is good enough.
Like being in jail. A dolphin performing at Marine Land.
But I’m not meant to whine about it because, don’t I realize that most people feel that way? That’s the way life is. Suck it up, Buttercup. We don’t get the luxury of time to reach for our fully realized selves unless we can buy it back from the system. And the system is unforgiving.
Trust me, I get it. I know I’m not unique. Every living Consciousness longs for expression and communion. Such things simply are not priorities. There's too much work to do. I hear what people say when they gently try to tell me that I will accept this when I grow up, when I’m mature enough to know I can’t change things anyway. Just go with the flow, right?
You’re in Marine Land? Enjoy the fish.
We can be the happiest dolphins in Marine Land, fed and warm, turning tricks, and we will never be as alive as the dolphin who leaps for joy from the ocean’s waves. Even though the ocean is a dangerous place. It’s the tragedy of too many lives that so very much of them must be spent on a continuum between struggling for survival and working for others. Who am I to say I deserve more from my work than achieving someone else’s goals? Who am I to say I deserve to work in my potential-brilliance-zone?
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Once was, Human Bodies were the best machines for the job. Cheap, plentiful, capable of learning, flexible and multi-talented, most were far more machine than was needed at a bargain price! Like putting a V8 engine on a tricycle.
Public school systems assisted in the development and production of an army of human bodies, capable of producing and also providing a ready-made consumer base for that production. Technology and innovation flourished. Human civilization leaped forward on the model that the producers and consumers were the same.
People weren't perfect, though. They had unexpected shut-downs, were prone to error, slowed down without regular prodding, and were buggy with emotions. Unpredictable and sometimes hard to control. Being underutilized tended to create dissatisfaction that manifested in many obstructive ways. They required a lot of management attention and coddling along. Their tendency to die when not fed, sheltered and rested created ethical challenges within organizations.
Luckily, we've come a long way. We now have, or soon will, robots and computers that can do all the "cheap" and semi-complicated jobs more cheaply, efficiently and predictably. We will soon no longer require the human machines for increasingly complex tasks. See Foxconn.
The only Human Bodies that will be useful in the sense of production are ones that are better than machines at something. Expensive humans.
Expensive humans are expensive to make. They require more attention in the early years to ensure their talents are recognized and cultivated towards the ability to reach their full potential. Education must focus on the individual learning style, and the home environment must be low-stress, high support. They require excellent nutrition, many recreational and creative development opportunities, and of course, training and knowledge. They need love, kindness, and attention, most waking hours. The adult-to-child ratios required would significantly shift the labour of adult humans - perhaps even the equivalent of half of most adults' time spent solely on child development.
Humans are no longer the best machines for the job. The private sector has decreasing need for "cheap" humans for production. At the same time, Business clamours for "expensive" human bodies and complains of a shortage. We continue to hold the poor Private Sector accountable for creating full employment by insisting that each person earn his or her basic needs through paid employment. We make people dependent for their lives on businesses, which have no corresponding responsibility to provide employment, while under-utilizing the potential of what we have in our existing production run of humans. We vilify businesses when they don't want to buy the Human Bodies we've developed, and vilify our own product as deliberately inadequate and deserving of sub-standard living conditions. Worse, we continue to produce production-grade humans and fail to invest in producing the product our customer wants - expensive, loved, self-actualized human beings who are something machines cannot be.
Some thoughts to chew on with me?
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Have you noticed how bad things are?
Okay, yes, I know all that frame of mind stuff. But come on. One immediate tiny example (indulge me, I'll keep it interesting). I'm trying to learn a flash animation GUI, and their help files are straight text.
I repeat, Straight Text. No Flash to flash them up. And the writing! SOOO well written, and so completely unreadable. I actually read the whole thing aloud using hand and arm motions similar to sign language, complete with facial expressions as though I were telling six year olds a story about how to understand movie making. In homage to how hard the writer tried.
It's not the writer's fault. I can see him or her, desperately reaching across the chasm of terminology and actual human learning, with words the only tool. Trying to make a living out of that English Lit degree Mother said was a waste of time. Management didn't get the specs there in time and everyone's breathing down his (or her) neck to just get the product out already!
My question is this: How many middle and upper management people reviewed all this text? How many marketing people made sure the language was aligned with their messaging to get me to buy something else? How many FLASH ANIMATION designers were involved in the creation of the How To manual? NONE. In 2011, with all those thousands of MBA's out there value-adding all over the place? It's just sloppy. It's badly done. There's no call for it.
Everything's like that. Flimsy. Cheap. Made for the process-makers instead of the users. Even the expensive stuff, I can see those corners you cut. Each one of them. I know what you did. You outsourced this and you sluffed off that, and you planned too little time, too little testing, took the cheapest parts...I know. I helped you for years. Building to last is not an effective business model.
It's too expensive. Doing things badly wastes our precious resources and the most precious of all, to me: Time. All this hurry-up wastes my time in the end, and my childrens' childrens' time a thousand times over. Human beings have the capacity to be better than this. We need to step it up and quit whining.
That's how I feel about poverty. Wasteful, sinfully wasteful. So badly done that I can't fathom how so many intelligent, educated humans could have possibly come up with even an eighth of it.
The more I look, the more I just want to take control of the situation and say, I am your OVERLORD, you WILL be decent people! You WILL treat each other with kindness! You WILL allocate adequate resources to ensure the public good! Or I will DISINTEGRATE YOU with my LAZER EYES! But I digress...
I have come to believe, as a working theory, that four main aspects of the problem are intertwined and underpinning the rest. These are the four things that currently have my attention, my "Key Strategic Focus Areas" (or KSFA's, for those who prefer):
1) Poverty is too expensive. It's dragging us down and must not be permitted to grow or remain at the same rate.
2) Poverty is so expensive because we grossly mismanage our resources
3) In the long run, it's cheaper to do the right thing
4) Society is currently too immature to focus on the long run with any sustained momentum
I'm interested in how a lot of other things come together, too, but these...these get my blood flowing.
At the core is my heartfelt belief* that humans could (should, but we don't say should in our family, so I'll say could) have the capacity to ensure that every life on the planet has shelter, food, water, clean air, some measure of security, and the ability to implement hygiene. It's not an adequate goal but still pie-in-the-sky enough to be going on with.
That we haven't already achieved this provides simply another example of how badly things are done.
*Constructs that come up a lot with me: Heartfelt beliefs, Values, Value, Community, Responsibility, The Plan, Full Potential...more on these in future
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Websites, reports, presentations, information to help move forward the dialogue in my country about how we want to be. I'm looking for useful data and I'm finding a lot of...words.
Here is what I am coming to in all this sifting. The people who control policy, and in fact most tax payers, care a great deal about cost and ROI. Yet as I sift through all the reams and reams of "data" and reports from people concerned with advancing the case of social equity and inclusion, hardly a dollar sign do I find. Eventually, I simply started doing a search for "$" before even starting a scan of the 64 pages of well-argued rhetoric I knew would follow the convoluted introduction. Rarely were the few dollar signs I found attached to useful ROI information. They were usually an expression of dismay at the plight of the disadvantaged, or a cost.
I think we are answering the wrong questions first. We seem to be jumping to how to solve problems that we have not all agreed need solving, without really talking about where the money will come from. And as a result, we are building in assumptions that do not serve us. We end up talking with each other, whining about how to get "them" to our table. What are we serving? What aroma might catch "their" noses?
Even if we weren't producing too much of our information in daunting reports and complicated frameworks, even if we were shoveling it out in exciting bite-sized chunks, we would not be successful. Because we are answering the right questions in the wrong order, then answering them with answers that require a level of agreement we have not achieved because we skipped over that sticky, fundamental First Question.
What are the rights we accord each other, and the responsibilities we owe each other, in this relationship which is community?
Or another way...
What is the minimum a person is "owed" and the maximum a person (or corporation) should be expected to "give"? And conversely, what is the minimum a person must give, and the maximum they are owed?
The answers vary wildly but we pretend there is a right one and it's ours. Can we try to grapple with the questions together, instead of working around the big, fat, elephant butt on the table? The elephant that keeps us talking to ourselves on opposite sides, trying to catch a peek of what's going on over there, yelling to get our point across.
Can we start to converse about rights and responsibilities, and the heartfelt beliefs people hold around these elusive and demanding concepts? I have a feeling everything else rests on these conversations we have among ourselves, every day, where we live and work and play. So how do we get the conversations going and make sure they are informed, when most people would rather talk about almost anything than what they really believe and how acceptable that is to others?
This is our work, my friends. I am preparing to join the fray.
(PS: If this post seems a little different than what you're used to, you won't be surprised to learn that this is the first post for my new blog which doesn't exist yet, on holdonhope.ca, which I haven't created yet. For now, I am housing this post here, though I realize that the rhythm isn't quite the norm for this space.)