Kudos to Dave Roberts on coming up with a great New Year’s resolution. Here’s hoping that he convinces a few people to follow his example:
What we need now, more than ever, are not critiques of the extant but models of the new — new institutions, new social practices, new identities, new purposes, new ways of measuring and valuing what matters. If we’re ever going to get off the sinking USS Fossil Growth and into lifeboats, we need to know where we’re heading. A new North Star.
We need people who can make a prosperous, enjoyable, sustainable world vivid and real. That will be the work of creators and dreamers, not logic choppers. It will mean acts of social and economic entrepreneurship, art and storytelling, irrational hope and optimism. It will involve lots of experiments undertaken by people unwilling to be constrained by the limits of the “realistic,” people who are willing to try, to risk failure or absurdity.
Such acts of creation are inevitably messy, impure, unpredictable, and non-linear. When rational analyzers like me are confronted with them, the urge is to immediately set to categorizing, boxing, dissecting, finding flaws … and too often diminishing or mocking. (I wrote about this a bit with regard to my reaction to Occupy Wall Street.) It’s my nature.
I can’t change my nature, of course, and neither can you. Which is fine — everyone has their own strengths and their own role to play. But in 2012, my resolution is to try to at least restrain that ravenous critic in my head, to give the dreamers and chance-takers a little more room to breathe.
If I could presume to recommend a corollary for Dave’s resolution, it would be this: Don’t criticize the tactics of a movement or organization without offering either (A) an accompanying critique of their ultimate goals or (B) a positive counterproposal regarding how they could be achieved. In other words: if you sympathize with the aims of a movement, try and make yourself useful to them. Don’t just throw potshots from the sidelines — we’ve got plenty enough of that already.