Monday, April 4, 2016

What if we need some disobedience of rules to survive?

Here's a thought arising from seeing something about the nature of water (read the full post here).
Although water (H2O) is a liquid, it breaks nearly all the rules that liquids are supposed to follow. It just doesn't behave the same way that the liquid forms of other elements or compounds behave, and it has characteristics that are totally unique; inapplicable to any other element or compound in existence.

Life on planet Earth is possible because of water.
It is precisely the law-breaking, rule-bending characteristics of water, and its unique properties, that make life possible.
If water followed all the rules obediently like the other liquids do, then life on Earth (and probably elsewhere) would not be possible.
In a system as ruthlessly rigid, unrelenting as physical science, because one little compound decided to chuck the rules, life became possible, sustainable, thriving.
In what other systems in our lives : relationships, love, friendships, education, healthcare, jobs, governance, finance, technology, science, law, justice... can a little breaking of the rules be existentially essential to making life possible, sustainable, thriving?
And mind that even in physical science, if all the elements and compounds went about breaking rules in an unthinking way, that would make life impossible as well. So I'm not going there; I hope you don't either. The "little" word is key. Besides, water's antics don't seem chaotic or unintentional to me; there's something holistic and positively constructive about it. It's not a rule breaker in the negative sense.

But let's look at the other extreme. What if, by going overboard on strictly and absolutely applying all the rules down to the very last detail, without any allowance for any exception at all, we will end up making life unlivable?
If that is so, then should this inform the demands by social movements, democracy, transparency, accountability campaigns, activists etc? Can they make room for this in their advocacy and proposed reforms? Can they figure out where to draw the line?

Check these out for more research:
Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.
(this talk gave some of the first disruptions in my own thought processes, challenged what I believed to be right, and made me question some things I have been standing for since long)
John Oliver's Last Week Tonight show on youtube : many of his episodes focus hilariously on the vastly shitty consequences in various fields in the US of what Barry Schwartz is talking about.

PS: Sincere apologies if you got multiple copies of this email. And, here's the obligatory Disclaimer.

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