Who's Got It
In all areas of our lives, from business to politics to relationships, we juggle the hot potato. THE problem. Is it real, is it urgent, do we care and if we do, who owns it. From personal spending habits to climate change the hot potato is tossed, ignored and even dismissed as a problem. The urgency factor is a measure of how far sighted the individual, group, family or society is. Are we spending our retirement nest egg too fast, do we have an emergency fund, are we running out of oil, what happens when the glaciers melt, do we need to have a water collection and transport capability, should we take that drug, stop drinking, fight the pesticide plague, worry about the bees dying, eliminate plastics, you get the picture.
We waste a lot of time, energy and even resources either arguing whether a problem is real or not, or proving the problem is not a problem, or telling ourselves the problem is too far into the future, I got more than enough to deal with right now. I used to have fun bringing up climate change with my friends and neighbor to test a theory of mine. As the authority figures defend their positions (all different) and others dream up temporary stop gaps, everyone got on the band wagon of "What exactly is the cause, are we responsible, is climate change a pressing problem, is coal an issue (co2, arsenic and mercury), will melting the tundra release too much methane gas, etc. etc.). Everyone got to arguing their positions until someone said, "wait a minute".
If, climate change is real, what exactly do we have to worry about, and when. The coastal cities? Finding fresh water? Deserts where there were none before? Flooding, hurricanes, disaster after disaster? You see selling the problem is very difficult. It can be not only a world political football but even a family opinion football. Suppose I believed deeply that my house on Padre Island was in harms way, I might want to sell it and move, my family might say I am crazy, we love going to the coast. And besides even if you are right the problem is so far into the future we would be nuts to give that up for a very slim threat.
Is the glass half full or half empty? Worry about something closer to home. You want us to give up buying plastics because plastics last for decades. Is marine life really threatened by the plastics we discharge into the oceans, into our lakes and rivers? Come on, are we really contaminating ourselves with mercury poisoning, are our fish being poisoned? Do I need to freeze this winter to save a few fish? Positions are taken with a hard line. "You my friend are always negative, give doomsday a rest will you". "And you are living in denial, and that denial will cost your children's children dearly".
You can see that egos get involved much more quickly than recognition or acceptance of the problem. The great asset of some is to be able to sell the existence of a problem. If that succeeds the real solutions are not far behind.
The Right Owner
Finding the right person or group to solve a problem is a very difficult task in a democratic society. I am not talking about assigned problems (as in a corporation) but the illusive problems affecting society either now or in the future based on what we are doing now.
For example the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) concerns itself with the use or misuse of pesticides. How much we are ingesting, what environmental impacts they create, how the government controls or fails to control their use and distribution, who is responsible, and most of all making noise that the politicians will listen to. For example suppose the budget cutting takes a wrong turn and eliminates a key support benefit from organic farmers. The first measurement they take is how many are affected and will their opposition amount to anything (read voting power). Pan holds the politicians feet to the fire and attempts to convince the politicians that what they have done or are about to do is not a good thing. This is done through their network of members and supporters. This, if enough participate, raises the noise level and thus forces the decision makers to reconsider their position. Many times they are successful, sometimes not so successful. But they are tenacious and apply pressure over time, if at first you don't succeed.....
What I find so interesting and not a little disturbing is that we continue to elect people who either do not care or cannot see the implications of what they are about to do. When choosing paths to follow the right path is not always obvious. The flaw of our leaders is that they cannot or do not want to see the paths that their decisions will take us on. Of course self interest is always upper most in their minds and this makes selling the problem that much more difficult. The beauty of our society is that lots of people can get together to influence the process and the individuals responsible, the ugly side is that those responsible don't know that their job is to figure out how best to run this country while upholding our constitution. There have been many attempts these last years to change the foundation on which this country became what it is today. The key to all organizations is that they must have built in checks and balances. Otherwise, no matter who you are or how big your organization, the mischief elf sneaks in and causes a great deal of harm.
I am guessing that we need a national education evaluation group. Not one that meets twice a year and passes edicts on down to each community, but a temporary one. Since we have the internet, gathering the appropriate people would not be that difficult. One or more web sites could be created (some public, some a work in progress) that would allow each of these people to connect and build a new educational system. The cost would not be that much, travel would be limited and each individual probably already has the necessary tools at their command.
The Mission: To reconsider our current programs and create a new set of programs that closely align with the three most important purposes of education. One: The development of the mind of the child as they progress through the knowledge gathering process. Two: The attainment of special knowledge and skills to meet the needs of their local, national and world communities. Three: An expansion of all programs to formally address critical skills of living (communication, critical thinking, problem solving, eco system awareness, personal fullfillment and conscious awareness). This last one would require a graduated entry into the concept of self awareness, relationships, and the developmental process (biological, family, community, global).
What are some of our current educational issues? Dropouts, non-college skills and knowledge, sports programs that violate the educational needs of the children, rebellion (at home and at school), continuous physical training (the kind that expands stength, flexibiliy, power, speed and awareness). Guidence in career directions and options. Higher education costs, The difference between the haves and the have nots (the tendency of communities to segragate into wealthy and less wealthy groups which alters the flow of money into the different communities and thus their educational needs).
Motivation: There are different schools of thought into what motivates employees to perform at a consistent high level. Some believe in the lure of more money and promotion. Others believe that beyond a certain level of reward it is the need to be a creative and contributing member of the team. Education faces the same issues. What level of reward motivates students to be a creative and contributing member of their team. What programs and methods will stimulate the desire in a student to excell in whatever direction is appropriate for that student. We all know our children inherit what we leave for them. We also know that they are the only ones who can improve on what we have left behind. The most important question then becomes what training do they need to creatively address their needs in the new world they will live in.
Some thoughts: Participation, problem recognition, problem solving, critical thinking, physical excellence, self awareness, personal development, and a broad range of skills and knowledge that tune into their needs and the needs of the commmunities they live in. Higher education costs are outrageous. Programs for job skills are not available until after the student is ready to enter the job market (plumbing, carpentry, electrical, programming, Service, maintenance and many more).
To Begin: Two groups are required for the two most pressing issues facing us. Education and Health. For education we need volunteers from the teachers, the administrators, the professors and the students. For Health we need volunteers from nursing, hospital staff, technology, doctors, insurance, government programs. At least one of the networking sites can link everyone together. Lets choose.