I am not a rocket scientist, or a brain surgeon. I work in systems architecture, which is fancy way of saying that I work in puzzles without pictures, and pieces of different sizes. My job entails taking an idea, breaking it down into smaller chunks, finding or making things to accommodate those chunks, then bringing it all together. I make things that are hard from the inside, look easy from the outside.
People, in general, are irrational. They make knee jerk decisions, and the majority of the time it is based on fear. Fear is a good emotion, it’s what’s kept us from being eaten by spiders and snakes and alligators. But we don’t (generally speaking) have that problem anymore. What we have now are taxes, people who are different than us, massively complex bureaucracies, and dozens of new inventions that connect us to each other without us understanding how.
It is a rather simple matter to explain to someone why a snake would bite you. It’s also acting in fear and self-defense. Trying to explain to someone where taxes go and what they do… that’s a challenge. I had a gentleman ask me why his phone automatically recognized a caller that wasn’t in his contact list. I had to explain to him that he had shared his LinkedIn and Facebook account, the other had done the same, and the system just linked them. He immediately went back and set it all to private, then started diving into other applications he had used. I’ve talked to my wife numerous times about online presence and the mindset of her students that simply cannot disconnect. Without her experiencing that firsthand, and the insomnia and externalized self-worth that accompanies it, there’s no real empathy.
I read a lot of news, from various sources. There are some articles that are good, most however are quite poor. To reduce an argument to a single line, or a single idea… that’s unfair. Even in this connected age, there is not enough material to fill in 24 hours of fear-mongering news. Most of it has to be made up, spun up, and screamed about. Apparently everyone is out to kill me, everyone who doesn’t agree with me should be locked in jail, I should be immune to all arguments, and I should never change my mind.
I do get the flipside. Issues are complicated. Like a giant house of cards, you can’t just take one piece on it’s own and remove it. It’s being supported by, and supporting other pieces. Ignorance is bliss and people don’t ever want to have a hand in the game. That’s the worst part about fear. The thing is, without that knowledge, it’s a slow death. Everyone has a hand in the game, whether they realize it or not. By sticking your head in the sand and pretending nothing is going on… there’s only one part of your body left to take advantage of.
I want my kids to grow up understanding that fear is a good thing, it’s a daily challenge. By facing that fear, by diving into it and understanding why it exists, we can make greater changes. It will be hard going. There will be failures. Other people will try to pull them down. But it won’t matter. They will ask questions. They will have sympathy to the plight of others. They will have empathy to better understand why people act the way they do. And they will grow smarter and stronger for it.
For that to happen, I have to be better. We have to be better.