Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Patience - from Darwin Day 2012


"Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them." - Dion Boucicault

By 1842, Charled Darwin had 230-page essay outlining his theory of Natural Selection; and yet he waited for another seventeen years (cooridnating his work with that of Alfred Russel Wallace) to publish the first edition of On the Origin of Species. He knew he was right, but he refused to become righteous.

Abraham Lincoln tolerated a long string of incompetent generals, a viciously divided cabinet, and even the borderline treasonous behaviour of McClellan because he kept he eye firmly on the long-term plan, the big picture, the real deal: get the country through the bloodiest war in its history intact. Because of his patience with his generals, his staff, his opponents, he acheived much more for his efforts than he imagined when he was elected, and our country in the better for it.

Impatience will kill us. Apathy, adrenaline and anger addiction, greed, bigotry, ideological fanaticism, displaced rage are the malignant symptoms of our haste to be done with disappointment of expectations, grief, love, depression, anticipation of success.

What kind of civilized society should have anything but contempt for the "I just want mine, now, and fuck you if you can't take a joke you pathetic, socialist loser." attitude of the typical techinical school graduate? What kind of rational educational system rewards a tiny fraction of its most idosyncratically talentented students with the vast majority of its financial and emotional resources, and narrowly trains the rest to be wedged sideways into a vastly compromised economic system?

All the plagues of modern political life revolve around the endemic inability of Americans tolerate a little discomfort. We are the richest country in the world, and we arrogate to ourselves all the prerequisites of our forunate history leads us to believe we deserve. This is one of the worst and most pernicious cognitive biases: the habit of humans to mistake the results of historical contingency for a validation of a ideology.

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