Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Progress as Process and not a Product

I had someone years ago share with me the secret to cooking a frog. Neither of us actually had a need for this skill or reason why we would do this, but we both worked for the government and it was more or less understood reasons weren't important. Only results mattered so that's where we concentrated our effort.

His real point was people get accustomed to situations and as they do, changes in those circumstances becomes the new normal from which the next changes are launched. Thus, dropping a frog into a pot of boiling water would result in him just hopping right back out. But if you placed him in a pot of still water and then slowly turned up the heat elevating the temperature from cold to luke-warm through warm to hot until you reached boiling, the frog would remain in the water even though in so doing, it would result in his death.

Quite often I suspect we are that frog, minus the web fingers (most of us). And as we progress in life our wants and appetite tend to increase geometrically as our abilities to satisfy them often only increase arithmetically until we are at a point captured on a sign I once saw that read, "I am now starving to death on the salary I once dreamed of making."

What were once vices are now habits, suggested the Brothers Doobie and while Jesus Is Just Alright, I think they more or less completely captured our conundrum. The problem with yearnings and burnings is they are rarely satisfied or sated and more becomes the new minimum.

Look around where you live-I have-and tell me most, if not all, of whatever your city or town's top three challenges aren't largely self-inflicted wounds. We've gone to the trouble to procure the bullets, acquire the gun and to even hold our foot steady while we shoot it ourselves. That's part of our independent American attitude, that holds self-reliance in higher regard than cooperation and collaboration. When you compare the results and destinations of those two paths, your mileage may vary but your resolve will never waver.

An irony is while I can clearly see when you do this and you can plainly see when I do it-we are incapable of seeing ourselves as others see us and thus keep stumbling over the same obstacles over and over growing more weary by the moment that 'someone doesn't do something about....'

We are willing to try anything to address our situation as long as whatever's proposed doesn't involve us changing any aspect of our lives or our lifestyles. We prefer problems that are familiar to solutions which are not, and endorse any form of change that results in none at all. When stasis is the goal, decay is the result-we're not a species that does the marking time for a millennium drill very well.

We have a need to soar and unless or until we accept our wings and learn to use them, we'll continue to do and to be as we always have and always are. Accepting an unacceptable status quo is not a way ahead for anyone, as an individual or as a resident of our city any more than giving a mouse a cookie benefits anyone other than the mouse (or the people making the cookies we give to it).
-bill kenny

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