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Friday, April 14, 2017

Paradise and paved parking lots that replace them.

When the surreal becomes real, when the warm traditions of the past are declared old news, when the memories of our childhood are wiped out or built over in favor of maximizing legal tender, it feels like we've 'paved paradise & put up a parking lot'.  In other words, we've pushed away the good in pursuit of the 'better', when often the better is not necessarily so.   But, as we know change is often inevitable and doesn't necessarily have to be or be thought of as bad.  As Carly Simon sings in Coming Around Again, "I know nothin' stays the same, But if you're willin' to play the game, It's comin' around again".  That is to say sometimes the old has to pass for the new 'good' to have space to take its place.  Which in a way is an appropriate thought considering the day I'm writing this (Good Friday 2017).  Good Friday represents the Father--by way of Jesus--giving us an opportunity to shed our old sinful nature and take on a new more Godly (Christlike) nature.

But I digress.  We as a society (and world) are constantly changing, we are constantly adjusting.  Some it is good, some of it is bad.  But I believe we have this annoying habit of over correcting.  That is to say, making up for mistakes (or problems) by going to far in the opposite direction.   

  • We go from an unkept, undeveloped area to an overdeveloped, overpopulated area.
  • We go from isolationist to foreign entanglement, back to isolation, then foreign entanglement.  
  • We go from being emotionally detached as parents ("Father Knows Best") to trying to be friends with our kids ("Gilmore Girls").  
  • We go from treating those with behavior/mental issues being portrayed as "oddballs" or "crazy" to diagnosing every every other person (or kid) with a 'issue' of some sort.  
  • We go from treating obvious bullying as "boys/kids" being "boys/kids" to treating any level of conflict as a 'horrendous'.  

In short, we have this habit of overlooking or zooming past a happy medium on the way to 'correcting'.  It's like we start to skid one way and jerk the wheel the other way thinking that we will get straightened out, when instead we are more likely to crash in the opposite direction of the original skid.

So, this leads me to a what I see as a derivative of the Serenity Prayer.  I'll call it the "Prayer of Wisdom for Society".

God grant us the wisdom
to push for change that is needed, but not too far;
to recognize when change isn't needed or desirable
and the ability to accept that we don't always have control over it.

Realizing the old should not be rejected simply because it is old,
nor should the new be embraced simply because it is new.
But evaluating everything on its merits 
and looking to our You, our Higher Power, for guidance.

Breaking it down

  • To push for change that is needed, but not too far
    • Speech is an example.
      • We recognize speech that openly and purposefully encourages others to violence and/or explicitly threatens others, especially 'innocents'. We push for condemnation of it, denial of a forum for it and in the most extreme cases take legal action against it.
      • However, speech that speaks out against another's beliefs, another's lifestyle or similar or could simply just offend someone is protected speech.   Certainly we have a right to free speech and can condemn what we see as unfair or rude.  However, when we start denying others a right to speak (especially under threat of legal action) because we don't like what they are saying, we are edging towards fascism. 
    • Development of a beautiful vacation areas is an example.
      • Say we have a nice coastal area that is underdeveloped.  That is to say it is say it could use some revenue/development to make it a viable vacation spot.
      • If we go too far in development of it we risk destroying its ecosystem and/or the essence of it in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
  • To recognize when change isn't needed or desirable.
    • A widely recognized instance of this truth being ignored occurred when The Coca-Cola Company in April 1985 decided to change discontinue the recipe of their signature product (Coca-Cola) in favor of a new recipe for it.  A public backlash pushed them to go back to return to the old formula by July of the same year.
      • The original recipe was still widely popular and the public had great nostalgia for the name (and recipe).
      • As Pepsi Max has shown, you can successfully make a formula variant of the original brand and still retain the old brand, rather than just replacing the original brand formula altogether.
  • And the ability to accept that we don't always have control over it.
    • Sometimes circumstances force change on us.  For example, as the population of a city (or an area) grows, so grows the need for new housing and roads, making it harder to hold onto green space around town.  We may be sentimental about the quaint smaller town we grew up in, but as the population grows we often have to face the reality that in time we will have to deal with less open space, more traffic and more pollution.  All the sentimentality in the world will not change the reality of the needs on the ground.

  • Realizing the old should not be rejected simply because it is old,nor should the new be embraced simply because it is new.  But evaluating everything on its merits  and looking to our You, our Higher Power, for guidance.
    • Sometimes we get caught up in new--diet, style, car, music, idea--because it appeals to our sense of different, creative, fun, entitlement.
    • What we fail to realize that is sometimes the old is either better or it functions quite well relative to our needs.
      • For example, we may want more updated computers in our department, but the cost benefit of getting them vs. using the old ones for another year or two might not add up, especially when the old ones suit our needs quite admirably.
      • For example, society may push a new diet fad that is unproven (and possibly unhealthy) because the old diet seems stale.  Given time and results, we might find the old diet is actually much healthier or safer.
      • History is littered with 'revolutionaries' who pushed an idealistic message or system.  Yet when their message or system is put into practice, the people suffer--think Communism or Nazism.
      • If we are guided by our better self and our Higher Power, we usually realize whether we should stay with the old or go to the new.


I'm going to close this post with a personal aside.  When I was growing up 7-Eleven was the 'it' spot.  They had slurpees, they had video games, gum, candy, and little knick-knacks that a kid might want.  In short, it was a happy place we usually walked up to.  I don't think kids walk up to the store so much anymore, QT has largely eclipsed 7-Eleven and arcade games are not founds so much in stores anymore.  However, my daughter loves the heck out of QT.  They have a kitchen with the foods a kid could enjoy, they have a candy and knick-knack area and they have a beverage area that is second to none.  She'll never have the joy of running up to 7-Eleven to play games and getting treats.  But, she will always remember the 'new' hangout in our area.   Population needs changed the dynamics of the area, but the change wasn't totally for the bad.  A happy place from your childhood is still a happy place.

Don't it always seem to go / That you don't know what you've got til its gone / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot

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