Monday, June 20, 2011

Which way to Eden?

Since finding myself with a few wide open days and a strong wifi signal, I've been able to not only catch up on my google reader backlog, but also click on any article that shows up in my Facebook feed that holds even the tiniest promise of entertaining me for a minute. That would be how I came across this article on the fallacies of libertarianism. Yea, I know.  Not my usual genre for sure, but interesting nonetheless if you can wade your way through it. The style of writing is quite academic in nature which required me to stop and reread paragraphs several times before I could even state for certain that what I had just read was in English. I consulted my handy dictionary app several times (read: shtetl) which is actually something I enjoy doing, but others might find tedious. And really this post has very little to do with that article, so don't feel like you have to read it or anything. Unless you want to, in which case, by all means, read away.  Keep that dictionary close by though.

Ok, the point. As I was stumbling my way through the article, I found these words resonated with me--especially the last line that I have bolded for you just in case you forget between now and then that it is the important one:
The essence of any utopianism is: Conjure an ideal that makes an impossible demand on reality, then announce that, until the demand is met in full, your ideal can't be fairly evaluated. Attribute any incidental successes to the halfway meeting of the demand, any failure to the halfway still to go.
And while the author meant it in relation to various theories of social organization and economic systems, I related it more to human nature.  As in, why are we so quick to attribute our successes to hard work, skill, and dedication while chalking up our failures to bad luck, poor timing, or someone else's mistake? Why does that tingling move up our spine tensing our neck and shoulders at the thought that we have erred and are therefore less than perfect? I mean it isn't like it's news or anything. We're all flawed.  Why is it so hard to simply say: I was wrong, I messed up, I made a mistake? Why do we continue to argue our side determinedly refusing to accept the reason of the counter point? Even when we know we're wrong, we'll still hold stubbornly to our stance. Be ridiculous, just never admit the other person might be right.

 And while we're blaming our mistakes and bad days on extrinsic forces, we are failing to give those around us the same consideration. If the cashier is short and snippy, then she must be a shrew. If a waiter gets our order wrong, then he must be an idiot. If a mom loses her patience and snaps at her child, then she must be a horrible parent. Why do we let a single moment define a person's character? And at the same time allow the strength of our belief that we are good, decent people wash away a multitude of our own moments of imperfection?

As usual, I have no answers. Only questions. And a desire to be better, to show more grace. So, I am going to make a conscious effort to acknowledge and label my own short comings and failures. It is the only way to grow. To admit that I have room to do so. That I am not already worthy of being cast in bronze to be admired by future generations.  And I'm going to try to take that understanding and free pass giving that I've been doling out to myself and start sharing it with the other humans I inhabit this planet with. Even things out a bit, a fairer distribution of resources. And if I keep striving to accomplish these goals, if I take the time to stop and think before reacting and judging, then perhaps one day I might find myself living in an imperfect utopia of my own making.

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