It seems to me that anyone who really cares about their country, who is a genuine patriot, has to care for everyone. Life is NOT a zero-sum game, where the gains enjoyed by others are a loss to you and yours. No, life and human society are highly complex, interdependent systems where every part has a role to play, and when we don’t provide optimal conditions for the health and well-being of some of the parts, the whole body suffers. Would you want your car’s engine to go without one of its spark plugs? While it would still get you to where you were going, it wouldn’t do it as efficiently, nor as effectively. In the end, it would almost certainly cost more to deal with the results of an imbalance in the engine than it would to ensure all its components were kept in good working order.
Yet many approach life as though they are living on an island. It’s difficult to fathom the level of insensitivity, blindness to reality, and the callous lack of empathy it takes to turn one’s back on people who may not directly affect your life in a way you can feel immediately, but who nevertheless impact the organizations and institutions you deal with all the time.
For instance, by not ensuring all children receive healthcare, adequate nutrition, and early education, we ensure our up and coming workforce will be less prepared than they otherwise could be for the kinds of jobs that will be available in the near future. The net result is we not only handicap those children, we also handicap their families, their friends, and the entire nation. By guaranteeing they need more help for far longer than might otherwise be the case, we add to both their burden and ours.
We hobble ourselves with mistaken, outdated, unsupportable notions that give far more importance to diversity as a bad thing; as something that takes away from our sense of worth, of self. Instead of understanding, celebrating, and taking advantage of all the ways in which we complement and enhance each other, too many of us turn those virtues into imaginary vices and use them to divide and separate us. What a pity.
The Axe (made by one person) vs. The Mouse (made by millions)
While working on a presentation, which I’ll be giving to the American Oil Chemists’ Society’sAnnual Meeting in Long Beach, CA at the end of this month, I’ve been looking for material I can use to highlight my excitement at the prospect of social business applications. I long ago came to the conclusion that what then was the nascent capabilities of Web 2.0 would someday revolutionize how we go about creating value in our economy and, necessarily, in our enterprises and organizations. Nothing has diminished this excitement and, in fact, I become more excited as I follow the changes that are taking place today.
In doing this bit of research I was reminded of a wonderful TED talk I watched some time ago and thought to check it out and see if it would jog my memory and, perhaps, give me some greater insight into how I can communicate my excitement and the vision I have to those to whom I will be presenting. The talk is by Matt Ridley and is entitled “When Ideas Have Sex”. I’ve embedded it below. In addition to the points he makes about the interchange of ideas (sex), it is also a wonderful example of the systemic nature of existence and human interaction.
Matt also refers to an interesting essay I believe gave him the overall idea for his talk. It was written by Leonard E. Read and is entitled, “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read.” Although I’m reasonably certain it was written with somewhat of a political agenda, which is the defense of free-market capitalism, I believe it also demonstrates the systemic nature of human economy and interaction . . . trade, if you will. I will leave the arguments for and against government intervention, whether through planning or through regulation, for other posts in future.
In the meantime, I really think you should read Read’s essay and watch this highly-engaging TED talk by Matt Ridley. You may find yourself wanting to repeat the process on occasion. I think this was the third time I’ve watched. Hope you like them.
I retired nearly 13 years ago, though I've continued to work during most of the time since then. I'm hoping to return to work on the RS-25 rocket engine program (formerly the SSME) which will power our return to the moon. Mostly I'm just cruising, making the most of what time I have remaining.
Although my time is nearly up, I still care deeply about the kind of world I'll be leaving to those who follow me and, to that end, I am devoted to seeing the forces of repression and authoritarianism are at least held at bay, if not crushed out of existence.
I write about things that interest me and, as an eclectic soul, my interests run the gamut from science to spirituality, governance to economics, art and engineering. I'm hopeful one day my children will read what I've left behind.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.