Saturday, June 12, 2010

Addressing complexity with more complexity

We lead such complicated lives today - You have to start saving for your retirement. What pension plan do you choose? A 401(k)? Is your employer offering you the best possible options? We need insurance for health, but you can't afford it. You pay out of your pocket to treat an injury, and you're bankrupt. You have a device that updates you on your friend's statuses on Facebook. You can travel to India, but because of heightened security reasons, all of your shampoo and lotion must be in containers no larger than 3 fl. oz., kept in a clear plastic bag. Schooling in America is "broken" and your child sees drugs and violence daily at school. There are chemicals of all sorts in your processed foods, chemicals that have never been tested for any human or environmental health impacts. Complicated problems we face daily. What is our approach to solving these problems? More complexity.

Let's make sure that people have health insurance by having the government create a competitive market for insurance providers. Let's create a variety of different school types and have states make up plans of how they'll improve over the next five years so they'll get money, and let's provide incentives for teachers so that they do their job, and if not, fire them. Let's create legislation to make sure that chemicals used in our foods, for cleaning up oil spills, for treating medical waste, can somehow be tested for their impacts on our earth. What unfortunately we do when we try to address problems in such a manner is that we add even more complexity to our lives, and to our problems. Then, when we realise that there are problems with our so-called "solutions," we address those problems, not the original problems, to make sure that we don't further dig ourselves into a hole. We lose sight and track of what we actually have to deal with - deep-rooted cultural, social, economic, ethical, moral and environmental discrepancies and problems in how we interact with ourselves, animals, non-sentient beings, and our earth.

1 comment:

  1. We always look to new solutions instead of looking to the old way. Maybe we could learn something. I think about your point a lot in my field - it seems utterly ridiculous that life can become so complicated that one case can generate SO much paper, so many files, and involve so many issues. Life seems to get lost within. Of course, the old way would have been very simple but probably not preferable - cutting off your opponent's head.