Monday, February 24, 2014

Slack (primer)


Slack is when we take care of ourselves, take care of our relationships and take care of the future.

The rest of our time is work. If it's not slack, it's work.

Maximizing contiguous slack is a primary purpose of a schedule.

Minimizing work. Maximizing slack. That's right.

Work is what we have to do to maintain the status quo.
Slack is when we get to focus on what it takes to get to the next level.

No slack, no next level.

When we don't have enough slack to take good care of ourselves, take care of our relationships and take care of the future, we cannot pursue happy lives. Which is supposed to be the point of the work.

Slack enables systems. The car won't drive if the belt is too tight or too loose, but give it appropriate slack and we're off to the races.

Slack enables organizations. It breeds relationship, creativity, trust and loyalty. Which support and feed productivity and innovation in the work. Control breeds resentful laziness. Slack breeds thoughtful commitment.

Purposeful slack can change the world.

(call me a Slacker again)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Viral Understanding

I read a piece by Thomas Frank today on Salon and it felt like such a relief to read his strong, reasonable, well-researched words.

I so often feel like I'm the only person bumbling around under the delusion that anything could or (gasp!) should be any better for the masses than it is.

Scarcity mind has been bred into us, taught us that we don't deserve anything but hard work and limited, controlled play. It's been called out in history but so few people right now are calling *bullshit* that it makes me doubt my own sanity. Human reluctance to see what is plain chills me to my bones. It's horrorshow, for real.

I have a lot on my plate and a million dreams in priority order, but only what's left of this one life to pick and do. When I see words written so well, I think about all the guilt I feel around this meandery bloggy attempt at communication, and how I don't do it better. I expect to feel ashamed, but instead, I feel relieved. If the bigger-following boys and girls out there start using strong language, I can stop sounding like a lone nutjob. Maybe I can just tweet their stuff, and spend more time painting and taking photos.

Seeds Fly 
Who am I kidding? I live for the idea that somewhere, at least one real live human being might gain awareness from something I manage to write in words and send into the universe as part of the general digital consciousness. I love getting strong words and good research to throw in my stew of understanding. I feel compelled to share here, because you read here, which means my way of wording it works for you. And however you word it with your other people will work for them.

I think maybe the answer to inequality is strong and inspiring words, translated through each of us for the people who can hear how we say it. I begin to see that as the "people's war" - a war of understanding, a spreading virus of understanding, that demands more SLACK for the work, and teaches us all we deserve it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Building Trust

An open letter from Maverick
(to Anyone Who Cares),

Humans can't trust each other because so many of us can't be trusted.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

I can more easily trust you when I know I have a society-backed remedy if you fail to master yourself.

Since you are not imprisoned, I should be able to trust you to have developed enough control over your animal self to prevent you from killing me. Even if you are a mythical Barbarian or a cruel murderer, I can begin to trust you won't murder me, because society will punish you on my behalf, will uphold my right to punish you.

And the punishment must be terrible, worse than the amount of harm done, worse than the potential reward of violating me. That message of a harsh punishment, shunning, banishment, is steeped into our "justice" and socio-economic systems.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

Instead we use law and governance to decrease insecurity, attempting an ever-losing battle to prevent people from being untrustworthy. We use laws to control people, force them to develop enough self-mastery so as not to be a menace, and exact retribution when they fail.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

We use it to prop-up mistrust, instead of teaching the humans to be trustworthy.

We start anti-bullying campaigns to end bullying. We could establish pro-trustworthiness campaigns to teach kids how to feel for each other, care about community and be worthy of trust through ethical choices (many have).

We put people in jail to learn disfunction from each other and the system-keepers, developing fear and hate. We could house people securely and meet them where they are with support, helping them achieve a level of trustworthiness that allows them to participate in society as an equal member.

We set up nursing homes and establish stringent rules around patient care, which are routinely ignored or forgotten. We could value the care of elders as an important investment in the continuation of society, and pay the people devoted to caring with love for friends and family as they age.

We can't teach the humans trust when we treat them with mistrust. We have made inmates of our species, when we came here to be free.

That is the punishment we require extracted under the misleading, mistaken assumption that control builds trust.

Unless the trust-breakers are rich.

If they are rich, they are rewarded with accolades for behaviours based on betraying trust. Some smart guys figured out how to subvert the spirit of the capitalist market, and they're spoiling the game for everyone, breeding mistrust along the way. But aren't they slaves, too?

Slaves to a system based on the worst of human characteristics - greed, and cynicism.

Slaves to a process of squeezing the human element out of the extraction of resources into profit, regardless of the consequences to individuals, communities and the planet.

Slaves who have not achieved the self-mastery necessary to resist the temptation to use their blessings as the means to extract from the common good more than is sustainable for all. Slaves who use their talents, positions, capabilities and luck to extract as much as possible. The same succumbing each of us will do, to some degree or another, with whatever level of wealth we acquire. They give in to the human self-imperative at the expense of what is shared.

Slaves of a system bent on cannibalizing resources into their limited spans of private control.

Systems that squander this pooled power on increasing power.

Systems that, left unchecked, have quickly sucked us right smack into the pain-point for every living thing on Earth except crazy-rich people. Accumulation without purpose, the greatest sin against the nature of what is, a choice that excludes and otherizes, objectifies.

People sucked into ruthlessly playing a game that doesn't exist with deadly consequences. They are slaves to their role in the game.

We do not jail these trust-breakers. We allow them to rule us with ever-increasing transparency into their disregard for everyone else, their high regard for themselves. Even the ones who "give back" have the arrogance to believe themselves better qualified to decide what is important enough to merit investment. We hold these men as gods of smartness, because they outsmarted us all, so they must be right.

We can't trust each other because so many of us can't be trusted.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

I can more easily trust you if I know society will back me up if you fail to control your worst animal instincts, if you fail to develop the self-mastery to avoid behaving in a breach of trust with me, with society.

And, I can more easily trust you if I know that we both understand compassion, and we have both been raised and taught with support and a sense of community, to be trustworthy.

Policy Makers have dealt poorly with our trust, selling it to rule-skirting geniuses, pop-culture celebrity-pushers, oil-controllers, lucky smart guys and inherited lords. The pack of them have breached the trust of being in control of the capitalist system, and undermined democracy.

Thanks to their decisions, we are at a point where Keeping Peace and Increasing Trust appear to most as unrealistic goals. It's sad and unnecessary.

In place of Trust we rely on controlling the population through fear of law. We can invest in the caregiving these human animals so clearly crave and need. Peace is achievable through peaceful means. We choose otherwise.

And for what? A faster race to the bottom. Is equilibrium such a foregone failure for this planet?

So, Crazy-Rich guys, I say, give it all back and start the game over. Enough pain, already. Put a cap on it, give the rest back through environmental-based operational shifts, wages, education, healthcare, dependent-care, mental health support and restorative justice. Step out of your slavery, and let's all get on with trying to win this planet for the good guys.

For the rest of us, I say, keep up the momentum! Because I do see the attempts being made, the work being done, the progressive insistence that our humanness be considered, and our quality of life assured, before the rich get any richer.

The crazy-rich have dug until they hit bottom. They are still pushing to see how much we will swallow, while we retch.

We don't want to live in the world the way it will look if we progress with only status quo behaviour in governance, law and our financial and other markets. When suffering begins to surround us for the benefit of such a small number, fear and anger grow, and eventually the people revolt. History has inflicted much to teach this lesson that our species seems unable to collectively grasp.

So teach the humans about Trust - the rewards of honesty, forgiveness, openness, generosity, honour, respect, fair treatment, equality, love. Teach them through example, and demand our systems evolve to do the same, over time. Insist upon it. Stay active enough to keep others ignited. That is what we can do.

Or we could just hang out and see what happens. After all, it's not our show, we're just the pawns.

(what do I choose?)