Monday, July 22, 2013

Society: Are We There Yet?

Most parents have heard that dreaded question at some point in their driving lifetime, the question that, if left unanswered, gets asked again and again until the parent goes crazy but if answered, probably draws an unfavourable response that the answer is not good enough.

The question is “Are we there yet?” (insert whining tone for effect).

The other common event that many a driving parent has had to deal with are kids who love to argue once they are in the confined space of a vehicle, poking at each other and trying to incite unrest in what would be a blissful drive otherwise.  Many children also have a sixth sense that the longer the drive ahead of them, the more they need to misbehave (at least until they get bored).

Many parents in such situations occasionally look in the mirror and make comments such as “I can see what you’re doing back there”, lose patience and yell at them, attempt to bribe them with teasers like “There will be no treats when we get to grandma’s” or say something more threatening like “You know that distracting the driver is very dangerous and could kill us all, don’t you?”.

And despite how many times this is repeated around the world and barring an unforeseen incident, the vehicle usually makes it way to its destination at the time it was meant to despite the arguing, noise and unrest that was contained within the vehicle during the journey. 

No amount of mindless questioning or making demands of the driver have any significant influence on either the direction, the destination or the arrival time.  The vehicle’s mechanical systems are indifferent to the noise and unrest contained within its passenger compartment and the driver is focused more on getting to the desired destination safely than figuring out how to keep the kids placated unless not responding to them places the vehicle in greater danger. 

The driver is also limited by speed limits, driving conditions and performance characteristics of the vehicle and therefore is not able to get to their destination faster than is possible given these constraints …. no matter how much they wish they could.

Is society any different?

In observing some arguments on social media in recent days, I believe many people fit the description of “the kids in the car”.

They forget that our judicial, legal and financial systems have for the most part, far outstripped us, their creators, in terms of our ability to guide, direct or even predict their behaviour or outcomes.  Such systems operate at their own pace with their own destinations despite our belief that we can define or change them.

And because many people forget this, they spend an inordinate amount of time yelling and screaming at each other, at “the system” or at “the drivers” in an effort to make the system change its direction or get to its destination faster.

In the case of the driving parent, smart children who understand more strategic ways of asking questions discover that they can influence the driver in ways that benefit everyone as opposed to yelling and screaming which for the most part expends more energy but produces a less favourable result.

The same is true about society.

Yelling and screaming at each other will not influence a system that has a life of its own and which is indifferent to our passion and our arguing.  Nor will yelling and screaming influence the people who believe they are “driving the system” unless the person who is “driving” perceives a greater threat by not responding. 

In situations such as the latter, the person “driving” will offer just enough teasers or threats to keep the “passengers” quiet so that the “driver” can return to that which is more important to the “driver”.

The bottom line is this …

Being strategic about asking the right question, the right way, at the right time and with the right intention can produce a much more significant result for the “passengers”.  Otherwise, if we create too much noise and distraction, we may inadvertently cause the “driver” to make an error.

And then a lot of people may get hurt.

We need more focus on the road ahead right now than ever in our known history.  The “drivers” see potholes, detours and delays ahead that may not be immediately obvious to the people sitting in the backseat.

And on the rare occasion that a “driver” is unqualified or unsuitable to be driving, one doesn’t merely overpower the driver to take command of the vehicle.

There are better and safer ways of influencing the “driver” that must be used.

Do you utilize them or are you too busy poking and insulting the person next to you?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,



It has been said that many people project outwardly what they struggle with inwardly and for this reason, we can often ascertain someone’s demons and struggles based on what they are screaming about the most.

For this reason, we should probably be careful about what we scream and shout about, lest we tip our hand to others regarding a potential weakness within ourselves.

It is for this reason that some “smart” people intentionally evoke emotion, especially anger, in some people in an effort to expedite the revealing of such weaknesses.

Some related musings ……

Asking Questions That Get Answered

Solving Puzzles–Follow the Breadcrumbs

Anger: Setting Yourself Up For Manipulation

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