The tyranny of the commons
This tendency to emphasize the needs of the many against the needs of the few serves to highlight how little politicians and leaders understand the psychology of the individual.
It is a rare person who sees the broad collective good as both aspiration and moral imperative. Instead we have people who seize upon the aspirational. The glowing benefits of the end of struggles which are personally impactful.
This is the trap of the idealist.
I say trap because many idealists fall away from the struggle for better in the persuit of best. Discarding incremental lasting change in order to create the large mediapathic spectacle of demonstration or sweeping, one stroke changes. The failing is this: such actions and changes are fragile. They have no foundation and unless such change is shored up after the fact, they are poised to fall.
But the idealist fails to see this. Instead of a step on the road, one triumph is declared victory. The bulk of those seeking change look to these idealists as leaders and they fall away from movements because of this.
Without the implicit and expressed moral imperative for changes, our leaders will rest on their laurels. Waiting for new people to take up the fight.
The second concern is this: That in seeking large sweeping change we set ourselves up for the trap. By excluding anything but full and sudden action from our success criteria we set ourselves up to fail. And as those failures drag on, we ablate away the less resolute supporters. Support which is required to push these agendas forward.
So the question becomes, how do we mobilize for changes which require a large percentage of the population to agree with those changes as neccesary?
Politicians would say that voting for them at the national level is vital. And they aren’t wrong but they aren’t right either.
What is neccesary is the creation and motivation of small grassroots efforts. Ones which are united enough to push forward but small enough or embattled enough to resist outside influence. We see that when a grassroots movement gets large enough it becomes vulnerable to takeover. We saw that with the Occupy Wallstreet movement and the Tea party movement. Both started as small grassroots organizations which as they metastasized radically shifted into organizations which were often at odds with their founding principles.
There are two primary ways to view causality and its interaction with ourselves.
The first is consequences. A simple linear if/then which covers smaller events. It is what we typically live with. This idea that what we do has an effect which is limited. It coincides with that kernel of selfishness in all of us which decries us the center of the world. What we do effects the world. It even acts in the opposite way to ego. In the belief that we don’t matter. That we are too small and what we do impacts so minimally that our lives are meaningless. This is the egocentric view of the world. It is the easiest way to see our world beyond ourselves and it would be easy to dismiss it. However, many people do not get to this point.
So we must nurture and cherish those who do. They take a step upon the path of seeing. And though they may never step further, they are still more awake than most sleepers.
The second view of actions takes us away from the self and considers the world. We have popularized it as Chaos theory. That if a butterfly flaps its wings and in the distance of the direction of time and space a typhoon occurs. This is big and dramatic and it sticks in our memory. But its wrong. At least in perception.
The second view is repercussions. That an action reverberates like a wave down the lines of causality making real one thing over another.
Put more simply it is that if I buy a sandwich, all the things which propagate outward from that are down to that cause. But that cause is the result of a series of actions and thoughts which resulted in that action. Nothing is alone. Nothing is isolated.
That can, at times, be both of a comfort and a terror.
Be thankful that humanity lives linear lives. What came prior can be examined and learned. And we can choose in the moment what we will do. Sometimes those choices aren’t good ones. Sometimes they are between extremes which we cannot separate from our self. From self preservation. But denial that they existed, is false. Merely that we found the repercussions of those choices to be unacceptable and so denied their existence. This is understandable in the moment of choice. But unforgivable when there is time for reflection.
It is difficult to maintain knowledge of repercussion. In the moment, the best we often get is consequences. But it is essential that we examine in those quiet moments the repercussions. If only so that in the next moment of choice, we choose more wisely.
What can I say in the wake of the news?
I suppose only to be vigilant. This changes nothing. Pence as president would be just as bad as Trump. Worse, perhaps, for the second term. Geared up to for one fight, we may loose another with different tactics. So we must remain vigilant. We must all vote and try to get all of those who are decided but won’t vote TO vote.
This is not a reprieve. This is a call to action. It must be. For the fight has not changed. This is still a war for the soul of our nation. We cannot be complacent in the final month. We must stand ready to vote out an administration which has made it its mission to dismantle our democracy. Before we lack the freedom to do so.