What do you do when “stuff” happens?

When I was in elementary school, for reasons unknown, a group of boys on the school playground were betting on whether I or another boy (whom I did not know) would win in a fight.  The group grew in numbers, and soon I and the other boy found ourselves being pushed into a growing circle of chanting, jeering boys, until we were goaded into a one-on-one brawl.  After several minutes of pounding each other to the immense gratification of the crowd of onlookers, a teacher arrived on the scene and pulled us apart.  After appropriately chastising the victims of the playground mob, she had us sit out the remainder of recess away from the other kids, each at the opposite poles of an “H” shaped football goal (common in those days).  After a while the boredom of sitting there led us to start a conversation.  We both learned that neither had wanted any part of the fight in the first place, and eventually we found quite a bit of common ground.  In fact, as a result of that forced fight we shortly became fast friends and playmates.

Let it be known that I do not recommend picking fights as a way of securing friends.  But there is a body of evidence suggesting that good things often can come out of “misfortune” and adversity.  But also notice that the result of any situation also depends on something you do:  If I had never spoken with the other boy, I would have missed out on a great friendship.


Lessons from Genetics for Government

When breeding plants or animals for a particular characteristic, you naturally are culling out other characteristics.  Long ago breeders discovered that the inbreeding necessary to standardize a trait also reduces the vitality of the offspring.  This is because the rich gene pool one starts with loses more and more unique genes.  If I am selecting for blue eyes, I naturally am extinguishing the genes for green and brown eyes from the pool.  But there are also other genes that have nothing to do with eye color but are unintentionally selected against, because they are close to or interrelated with the green and brown eye color genes.  As reproduction, health and vigor decline, it often becomes necessary to bring in an outside individual, one that is markedly different from the type you are breeding for, in order to ensure survival of your captive population.

While a very brief, simplistic description of the problem, I believe a similar issue exists with government.  That is, there is a limit to how much uniformity can be coerced or forced into a population before the results are unhealthy or destructive to that political unit.  For instance, as the type and way of educating our populace grows more uniform and directed, we lose the “genes” necessary to deal with a major fluctuation in our environment (be that physical, political, or otherwise).   The evidence is clear that what one child learns at 4, another learns at 9, and forcing the issue can do great harm.  Or by focusing on cerebral skills we see a reduction in the physical fitness and health of a population.

So when I hear of a grand plan to require all children to “stay in school” until they are 18 org they graduate, I can only wonder whether we are losing future George Bernard Shaws, George Eastmans, Peter Jennings’,Peter Jacksons, Thomas Edisons and the like.  What made this country great was diversity – not simply the diversity of ethnicity, but also of culture, styles, ways of learning, choices, timing, and – even in part – values.  If our government is in the business of making clones, then we can expect arrested development of our nation.  Clones by definition can never be better than the mold they are made from.   But a nation of uniquely developed individuals can.


One thing I know is that there is more to this universe than simply mass and energy.  Thinking and feeling and choosing can be influenced by the physical world, but there is something beyond those limitations.  There is meaning to be had, to be discovered, beyond the mere imputing.  This is why a journey can be more important than reaching the destination,  why how a thing is done can overshadow what is done, and so on.

I can feel satisfied for a while with provincial and unsophisticated thinking, but there is soon a growing need for something deeper, something bigger than a world of merely physical possibilities.  Bigger, yet in some way connected.


The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

– Albert Einstein


I even hide sources from myself.  I may have heard something someone else said, but forgotten, assuming it was my original thought.

Overcoming age

Are you acting old?

Here is a tried and true recipe to solve that problem: Work with children and teens.

Children make you feel old, but keep you young.


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