The world is more complex than any of us can fully understand, so we simplify. Often times, our simplifications lead us toward dogmatic solutions; plans that will allow us to solve the worlds problems if only the world would dramatically change by adopting them. It becomes easier to advocate full government payment for health care, or abolishing the welfare state, or moving back to a gold standard, or believing we need more stimulus to get the economy started than it does to recognize the insurmountable challenges between here and there.
Because of the complexity, many groups advocate a solution as dogma for how to solve the ills we are facing — an indisputable, clear, simple solution that should solve our problems. These simple solutions provide a basis for determining the direction we should move. But too often the gap between the solution and the current state is so large that it turns otherwise productive conversations into whining and complaining. When we start thinking, “The world would be so much better if only …”, we must take care not to become unproductive cynics.
This comic summarized this problem perfectly:
Ideal solutions are not enough; a path that allows for implementation toward the ideal is what we need to find. We should improve the status quo, not just whine about it. It means though that we need to think harder than simply grabbing onto a single dogma and whining that no one will listen to us.
“For every complex problem, there is a solution that’s simple, straightforward — and wrong.”
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)