Saturday, May 22, 2010

Are you here now?

You can think and speculate til the cows come home, but everything you actually do can be the source of wisdom. Sometimes the wisdom is hard earned and downright painful, and sometimes you can go through the painful lessons without actually learning anything. It all boils down to attention. "Are you here now?" And to what do you pay attention?

I just came in from mowing the grass and was using the exercise to explore a few connected concepts. There is a squeeze bar on my mower that is intended to let the machine know the operator is no longer in control. This device was mandated by the Consumer Products Safety Administration, and some would regard it angrily as a government mandated inconvenience. But there are real idiots out there, like the MD who disabled the squeeze bar so he could lift his mower in both hands and use it as a hedge trimmer. He picked it up and immediately cut the tips from his fingers. I suspect he learned a few things from his experience... lessons that the CPSA hoped he might avoid.

So, I am grateful for a bit of government regulation. As we know less and less from our own personal experience, there become more and more things from which we will need to be protected.

Do you know how much money BP spent in lobbying efforts to avoid government regulation of oil drilling in the gulf? I consider it the teenage-boy-thing, trying to get away with things when the grownups aren't watching. You think you know lots better about things, even though your cerebral cortex is not fully developed. BP, showing obvious signs of corporate immaturity, tried to skirt the regulation, took risks equivalent to the redneck teen jumping head first in shallow water crying as his last words on earth, "Hey watch this!"

Regulation is a good thing. I draw a comparison with my writing. A good editor makes me a better writer. Good regulators would have saved BP over a billion dollars, and saved the Gulf environment, and millions of people tremendous heart-ache.

Yesterday we had a shooting incident in Arkansas where two men, stoked toward violence by anti-government rhetoric on Fox News and the internet, killed police officers. Do you see the pattern? I hope so.

I can tell you a few interesting things about work. Work in the real world, doing hand work or hard work or both work can be one of two things depending on your attitude. You work with joy toward personal fulfillment and expression of care, or you do not. One path leads to wisdom, the other does not. As we work, dependent on that choice, we either stew in things and grow angry or we become expansive in our thinking of things we might contribute toward the greater good.