Friday, May 13, 2016

Describing Transition

Describing Transition : My take on it..

It is observed in nature, in electronics, in any system that there cannot
be an instant switch from one state to another. Even in digital circuits,
upon closer inspection we find there is a transition. Sometimes that
transition can be smooth, other times messy.

So applying that concept to the macro level, various initiatives like
Transition Towns movement started with first the acceptance of things as
they presently are rather than complaining about it.

Then we think up of how we would like things to be. And then we figure out
how we could transition from here to there.

The intermediate steps can be messy, and because they’re intermediate,
won’t be perfect.

Many times we build overly high expectations and then when something that
might actually take us towards where we want to go comes along, because
it’s not perfect, because it’s an intermediate transition step, we might
end up rejecting it out of hand and so fail to transition.

It could be :
  • a political option at elections that isn’t the perfect one that you had wanted but at least can help to keep the criminals & greedy folks out of the system, 
  • a technology that isn’t absolutely 100% clean. 
  • a chemicals-free healthy food product that had to be packaged in plastic as it was the only option available to the maker right now to get it to you without losing 75% of the material in transit. 
  • something that shouldn't be more expensive, but is for the time being due to financial compulsions. 
  • a solution that does 80% of the job but isn't able to do the most difficult 20% that no one else also is able to do yet, like a machinery upgrade in an industry that removes 80% of the polluting effluents.
  • having to charge money in order to make a living while advocating a better economic model / givftivism etc.
  • one family member compromising on values and staying in corporate job to be able to make ends meet for the family and so enabling the parttner to work in promoting giftivism, alternative models etc. 
  • creating opportunities for schools to adopt better practices while still wholeheartedly agreeing with unschooling concepts.
  • heirs of large fortunes deciding to not follow their parents' footsteps and instead devoting their time and energy and their inherited resources to help good things to happen.
Invitation: Do you know similar situations? Write them in the comments section!

Some of these opportunities might still take us one step closer in a 100-step transition process, and so even if imperfect (and at times apparently conflicting with the overarching vision), can be a far better option than remaining stuck in the status quo.

Once you go a few steps forward, other opportunities might open up that you
can’t see right now. Kind of like that story of the dark road at night not being lighted all the way, but your headlights light up the first few meters and that is sufficient to go forward. On the way you might even find co-travellers and allies.

Addendum: Where will it begin? Will it begin amongst those who are living most hand-to-mouth, who cannot afford to take risks, who are at the mercy of the dominant systems? Among the poor? Or the rich? Or the middle class?

I think Transition will start first where it can do so without too much risk to the attempters, and then spread once it has established some kind of proof-of-concept. It'll be impractical to expect it to begin only at points of greater difficulty. And different kinds of transition may have different kinds of circumstances.

 The flip side

By rejecting imperfect things by default, by staying locked in the status quo (and so unconsciously voting to prolong the status quo), we might not be taking a risk but will still be 100% guaranteeing that good things will never happen. Which is better? A 100% failure guarantee or a 1% chance of success? What would a tree have to say about this : a tree that generates 10,000 seeds of which maybe only a handful will grow to be trees? Does nature prefer to lock itself into the status quo because of a lack of assured guarantees, or does nature prefer taking a shot, and maximize its shot-taking ability to tip the probability odds into her favour?

And since we don't live in a vacuum, there's a social obligation too. Your rejection of a good thing just because it doesn't fulfil your extreme expectations..

(Example insert : like expecting the vegan restaurant with a "green" in the name to be 100% plastic-free when they never ever committed to that at all, failing which you dismiss it as a fake/fraud, nevermind all the efforts they have been making despite all odds and taking on serious expenses to do the best that they can, nevermind the thousands of other restaurants out there whom you're giving a free pass with zero obligation and focusing all your negativity and judgement on just the one who actually gave a shit, who stepped out of line, took a great risk and tried to make things better),

...and sharing of your harsh dismissive stance with the larger community and using your perfect logic to justify your up-nosed high-horsedness, might actually DESTROY the chances of the solution you and others want from ever happening. Why would anybody even bother to try doing something nice ever again with people like you sitting around and waiting to insult any attempt at it in front of the whole community? Those who have done these kinds of things need to learn that they share responsiblity in prolonging the problem even if they weren't the original problem-causers.

Note: I'm upping the pace a bit here because the above example.. has actually happened just yesterday, with one dear friend of mine getting on the high horse and having done some serious amount of damage to another dear friend's initiative which by all counts did not deserve that kind of treatment; and the damage done might very well be permanent. So I have seen first-hand how bad things happen when somebody assumes a position of high expectations and perfectionism and unilateral definition-imposing (the 'green' in the name was never supposed to stand for zero-plastic.. my friend blindly assumed that without asking and judged the whole thing without trial) and forgets how to be nice in the process.


So in times of transition, it pays to be kind and humble and nice, to be accepting of what presently is, to not be perfectionist or have unrealistic expectations and instead explore how we can move where we want to get, realistically, incrementally, positively and at many times, intuitively.

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