Sunday, January 29, 2012

..."predicaments that must be "chipped away at..."

Fascinating piece @ How to Save the World this week - The Intercession of a Thousand Small Sanities -

"Gopnik is saying, in effect, that complex ‘problems’ like crime, poverty, climate change, peak oil, corruption, pandemics, and unsustainable growth economies, are not ‘problems’ that can be ‘solved’ at all, but rather, as philosopher Abraham Kaplan explained, predicaments that must be “chipped away at” and adapted to. Our species tends to loathe complexity, and prefers to oversimplify everything, and the politicians, lawyers, corporations and media play on that loathing by always proposing analytic (“A or B”) dichotomies and simplistic “answers” — which cannot possibly work. “Three-strikes” laws, “trickle-down” economics, emissions trading schemes, subsidies, religious taboos and inquisitions, austerity programs, prohibitions, bailouts, military invasions and “quantitative easing” — these are all massively expensive complicated “solutions” to complex “problems”, and they have all failed spectacularly.
“The intercession of a thousand small sanities”, as Gopnik so elegantly puts it, will never be a popular approach to coping with complex predicaments, especially as they grow, through the indifference and incompetence of leaders and vested interests and the sheer size and scale of the systems creating them, into crises and then into chaos and collapse. Yet it is the only approach which has a chance of making things better.
And this is the reason, I think, why more and more informed, intelligent, imaginative people are giving up on trying to ‘reform’ our systems through various complicated solutions, and joining the ranks of the ‘collapsniks’ who concur with John Gray’s analysis that our civilization and our world cannot be “saved”, and that instead of hoping and trying to save it we should do nothing more than becoming more our animal selves — reconnecting with the rest of life on Earth and with our primeval senses and instincts, getting outside our heads, coping with contingencies (perhaps through “the intercession of a thousand small sanities”), relearning to play, living in the moment, turning back to real, mortal things, and simply seeing what is."

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