Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Big Mistake

I was talking with my friend the mathematics student last night and she said it wasn't her I had written about previously, I left most of what she said out. Relieved she didn't say I got wrong what I did say she said, I explained that what appears is an edited version of reality. Not fiction, but in the category of something made for human reasons.

She told me she's heard many stories about rich American parents refusing to help their children. They make loans to their children expecting them to repay and imposing drastic penalties if they don't, including total expulsion from the family, like a bank repossessing your house. It's common, even normal, I answered.

- Why?
- I'll try to put it in the form of a proof. The parents insist that their children be independent. That's the first axiom: Everyone must be independent.
- Alright.
- The second is, independence is determined by money.
- Why?
- Blame it on a misunderstanding of what democracy is. Parents are democratic with their children. In a democracy any way of life that doesn't directly, physically threaten others is acceptable. Parents can tolerate almost anything in their children, but not dependence on their money.
- Why is dependence on money a threat?
- Because dependence is intolerable. It is embarrassing.
- But we are all dependent on each other in many ways.
- Dependence is failure. In American life failure is what in religion is called "evil". Good is success.
- But someone can be a success in life without making money.
- A success, but not independent. Independence is success determined by money. Money is the only sign of success recognized by the people in common.
- But the parents could understand their own children, and see why and how their lives went different directions.
- They can, they do. We're talking about the typical case, the parents who demand their children be independent.
- But why?
- Because dependence is a physical threat. Money is the ability to separate yourself from everyone else. Someone with no money can't do that. There is no place to go and nothing to do without money. Someone without money might arrive where you are, because he has to be somewhere, and he can be nowhere. He is an inherent danger.
- Members of their family think they are dangerous?
- Yes.
- Strange. In my country family and friends and life are more important than money. Why do they think that way?
- The first axiom is, Success is independence. The second is, Independence is determined by money. The third axiom is: Compromise is necessary for independence.
- For making money?
- For being successful in making money.
- Why?
- Because in democracy, where there is no idea of good acceptable to everyone, cheating is not controlled. You must choose between simply defending yourself, not succeed, but not completely fail, or compromise. Compromise means doing what other people want, not what you want. When you don't do what you want, you lose track of your own investigations, experience, reality of life. Your reality becomes the habits, thoughts, expectations of other people, which are also based on the habits, thoughts, and expectations of other people.
- Simply defending yourself you don't make money.
- Yes. Independence means doing what is required for success. Independence comes only through money. Money comes only through compromise.
- And compromise is dependence. Independence comes from dependence.
- That is the first conclusion of our proof.
- That's crazy.
- The American religion of success is crazy. Independence, which is the good or ideal, the idol or god of the religion, is acquired by dependence, by compromise.
- Don't people see it?
- Yes, they do. Of course they do. It's more complicated.
- How?
- Look at politics, if you can stand it. Let's pretend the politicians mean well, some of them, sometimes.  But the realities tell them they have to compromise. Idealism won't get them anywhere. They'll be blocked. Sound reasonable?
- Yes.
- But it's absolutely wrong.
- Why do you say that?
- Because the opposite to compromise is not idealism, but imagination.
- What do you mean by imagination?
- Creativity. Innovation. When you put compromise first, what you are compromising between are various "ideals" or stories. You end up with a mixed up story which is practically useless.
- I don't understand what you mean by story or ideal.
- OK. Our axioms. To be a successful, as a politician or in any other competitive way of life, you have to compromise. Compromise means paying attention to other people's thoughts, not to reality, not to your own thoughts and experience. Assuming there are real political problems to be solved, solving them requires more than knowing what is in other politicians' minds.
- Unless what is in their minds is what is causing the problem.
- Yes! They get used to the idea that is true. That their compromise is doing the only important thing, the only real thing possible. They go into office with the idea they compromise first, then do the honest best they can with the results of the compromise.
- But the problems are real.
- Yes. But they are successful people, remember. The only "real" reality is success. Success is measured by money. They've made their money, established their independence. Compromise is essential to their independence, because it makes them money. They love compromise.
- Maybe in the current situation nothing else can be done.
- As I said, the opposite to compromise is not idealism, but innovation. It is true that someone accustomed to compromise cannot be creative, because creativity requires reliance on one's own experience, not a constant attention to the intentions of others.
- You think creative politicians could solve the problems.
- Sure. Politicians don't even try because they believe, and everyone else believes, they must compromise first, and then do the best with the results. The results are stories: things said to please other people who are trying to please other people who are trying to please other people. The second conclusion to our proof is: Compromise brings loss of creativity. Families are stuck with lack of creativity in their personal lives and the country is stuck with lack of creativity in politics.
- It is hard to believe. Americans are known for their creativity. Movies, computers, music.
- When innovation makes money. It doesn't spread into personal life and politics.
- Why not?
- You said it is crazy, and it is. Personal life is a machine for public success. But in that public success there is cooperation that would be considered embarrassing in personal life.
- Why? Why is cooperation in work not considered dependence and failure?
- Because it leads to money, success, independence. The right way to live and do things is treated as if it were an embarrassing compromise, and the wrong way is worshiped as ideal.
- It's really complicated.
- And we're used to simplicity.
- What do you mean?
- Personal relations, political relations, modern American style, are compromises between compromises. There is almost nothing left after that collective destruction. It can be summed up in 2 words: least bad. Reality is much better and much more complicated. I said that money is for separating yourself from people.
- Yes. I don't understand it, why Americans think that money is to be used for separating yourself from others.
- Our axioms: Success is independence. Independence is defined by money. Money is made by compromise. Compromise is dependence. Only successful compromise can save you from dependence. Your failure, in the form of dependence, is a threat to other people's success, to their independence. It's either you, or them. You'll be forced out. If you don't play, you lose.
- But independence is not ideal.
- What is then?
- Creativity. Love. You know.
- I know. Do you remember what I said last time about democracy?
- Remind me.
- That concern for what makes the tool work best has replaced what we use the tool for. We take the means for the end. We want to be efficient, to be the tool, but finally be free of being the tool of our efficiency. Success is independence is making money is compromise. The result is that our independence is dependence, our efficiency is failure. A big mistake.