By Michael Cumming
Published July 15, 2011
Happiness requires effort. People who do little tend not to be happy. People who go through terrible things are not necessarily miserable. Often they can be the happiest people around.
The great Italian humanist Primo Levi is a good example (though I believe he did suffer from depression later in life). Despite the fact he witnessed the Holocaust he was able to write a very moving literary account of his experiences in Auschwitz. I imagine that writing this must have required great effort. But we are so much richer as a result of his efforts.
I think about politicians who promote reactionary 'solutions' such as starting wars, policies that further stigmatize the poor and the disenfranchised, or even such relative trivialities as taking out bike lanes in car-clogged cities.
Are they following their own political ideology? Certainly. But another explanation is that maybe they're just being lazy. They don't expend the energy required to recognize the destructiveness of their words and actions. They don't attempt to come to better-integrated solutions because such solutions are hard to come by and require effort-sometimes Herculean effort. If they did expend this energy they might realize that the most productive path may require subtleties of thought.
Creative paths or policies tend not to destroy value. They enhance it. Not just for you and your pals, but for everyone. Politics need not be a zero-sum game.
Reaction takes less effort than creative thought because it depends so crucially on received opinion. Received opinion by its very nature is passive. Excessive passivity suggests laziness.
Sometimes the best idea is not the intuitive solution-it is often the counter-intuitive one. Quantum physics is the craziest thing you could ever think of, but it appears to run our universe.
To see the value in counter-intuitive solutions requires lots of thought and a consensus between other sentient beings that good ideas might sound crazy, but they also might just work.
First published on Michael's personal website.