Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Difference Between Bad Luck, Coincidences and Poor Choices

“Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys.” - Emma Bull

“Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't, don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.” - Joseph Heller

America and its leaders have been fraught with a lot of “bad luck” these days.

When American citizens were attempting to get to the bottom of the Benghazi affair, then Secretary of State Clinton was suddenly overcome with a series of illnesses that continued until the clamour for justice died down and then suddenly she was well.

When people were wondering about what was going in Egypt and were calling Secretary of State Kerry’s focus into question, his wife was suddenly ill with an unknown illness that dominated the press until people stopped asking questions about Mr. Kerry’s choice of priorities.  Suddenly his wife was much better.

Yesterday as the President prepared to conduct a press conference to announce that our economy and its recovery still remained as mysterious and elusive as our ability to convert lead into gold, we had the tragedy of the Washington Naval Yard and amidst the focus on that, the President held his little-covered press conference anyway.  Few people heard the news of continued uncertainty regarding our economic situation or questioned why this important press conference wasn’t delayed out of respect for the event that was unfolding at the Naval Yard and so that more people could hear what was being presented.

Enter the conspiracist

Conspiracy people like Alex Jones and others cry foul over such things, saying that such events are intentionally orchestrated at the right moment to hide things from the American people.

For the third of my three examples, this would be a deep stretch unless one considers technology such as that which I wrote about in Experiencing the Voice of God.

We can accept that all of these events are pure coincidences.

We can take the conspiracy side and say they are all related and be swallowed up in the resulting paranoia.

Or we can admit that our world has gotten so complex, with so many events going on at once and with so many moving parts that it becomes impossible to connect the dots in the right order and with the appropriate inter-relationships …. if some dots should be connected at all.

It also becomes difficult to attribute the events to things that we have done … unless one steps back and looks at them in absence of the ill-informed propaganda that our news media presents as “information”.

Our world has outstripped our ability to understand it

The events of the world have assumed a life of their own and have exceeded the ability of their creators (us) to control, guide or predict them.  It is driving towards its own end point oblivious to our desires and actions to direct it elsewhere.

Don’t believe me?  Ask any politician what the impact will be of signing “legislation du jour” and they won’t be able to answer you outside of sharing their PR shtick.

And while people proclaim that gun control will prevent events such as yesterday’s tragedy in Washington DC or that bombing Syria will solve that “problem”, I suspect that things will continue to get more complex and not less when one discovers that much of today’s legislation and diplomacy are more of a best guess than a calculated strategic initiative with known outcomes.  The fact that the shooter in yesterday’s tragedy had weapons charges in his past and was also known to have psych issues when he passed an FBI background check in order to buy the weapon he used in the shooting and when he passed the Navy’s background check shows that more process and legislation doesn’t automatically fix anything.

Expecting things to get more difficult seems especially apparent when considering the adage “you get / attract what you focus on” and considering that the brunt of our government intellectual / financial focus is on military expenditures and the use of force domestically and abroad instead of improving ourselves in the areas of:

  • education
  • healthcare including in the area of mental health and disease prevention
  • the poverty divide
  • climate change
  • clean water
  • human population sustainability
  • the technology singularity
  • sustainable “clean” energy
  • healthy food
  • ** insert your own concern here **

I left one thing off the list, that being the ever-increasing surveillance that is taking place around the world.

Our leaders tell us that we need additional surveillance in order to be safe and to provide ourselves with an opportunity to focus on the detailed list above.

I think those leaders have their cause and effect backwards … intentionally in order to justify the military expenditures.

And there’s a reason for this.

If we had focused on that list almost exclusively, we wouldn’t have enabled or created many of the situations where we now need increased surveillance for our own safety.

However, the list of challenges I described has no easy solution or even a solution at all in some cases.

And so we stick with the one thing that we do very well and which we can control.

We build weapons.  Of all the things in the world, that is the one thing where we can predict the outcome of our actions and we are willing to invest the money to prove it.

For the rest of the items, we distract people from the fact that we are not solving them by producing feel-good studies that prove nothing or we actively seek opportunities to use our weapons, highlighting a “success” (and a justification for their use) while distracting us from the fact that more important things are not being solved.  Some have suggested that certain individuals will sometimes seed both sides of an argument so that people will be distracted, consumed or exhausted by the debate over how to fix things, eventually giving up or concurring that the problems are unsolvable.  Sadly, I have witnessed the latter technique being used successfully by some people.

Even when responding to Putin’s comment the other day that Americans shouldn’t be told that they are exceptional, a member of the US Senate responded by citing American victories in two world wars as proof of American exceptionalism.

I posit that Americans are exceptional in MANY non-military ways – why is our only response to Putin’s taunt tied to military victories (and old ones at that)?

Luck – good or bad based on perspective

People who seem to experience good luck constantly do so because they have sown the seeds that produce such luck.

Conversely, many people and companies who appear to have bad luck all around them discover upon closer examination that they have sown so much complexity and “bad karma” in their lives that bad luck is bound to return with seemingly greater-than-normal frequency and intensity.

And just as in classic accounting where we balance liabilities against assets, the truth is that one person’s bad luck is someone else’s good fortune.

So with the bad luck that America has experienced lately, it in fact is someone else’s good luck and is not entirely unpredictable.

Whose good luck it is and whose decisions are producing the “bad luck” are the questions that merit a closer examination.

The difficulty now is that we have passed the point of no return, where “the people” no longer have the means or even the right to question the priority of the people they elect and the seeds that they are sowing.

Since it’s no longer the elected official that make many of decisions, chasing after them for answers will not produce much satisfaction anyway.

And the sad truth is that pressing for such information may produce bad luck for the querent.

But that’s only coincidence, isn’t it?

In service and servanthood,



A friend of mine who has served as a senior advisor to multiple Presidents of the US indicated to me some time ago that the events that are taking place both domestically and internationally cannot and will not be stopped and that what we should prepare for is the transition through the coming difficult times.

The difficulty with this analysis is this.

Transitioning through difficult times is only possible when one knows what the difficult thing is that needs to be navigated through.

Otherwise, we are likely to experience a LOT of bad luck.

Or is that also just a coincidence?

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