I’m an engineer by aptitude, education, and vocation. Those of you who are also one, or know or live with an engineer, know what we’re like. We prefer to live in a logical frame of mind, and we have a particular appreciation for reality. We think linearly: if an orange costs $1, then two oranges should cost $2.
Choices have consequences; actions cause equal and opposite reactions; what goes up ends up coming down. When something that has worked right forever suddenly doesn’t work, we first ask what changed about the circumstances? We’re not as amazed by digital technology as most others, because we understand how it works, and how fundamentally simple it is at its core. We find edu-babble like that of Post-Modernists, who declare there is no such thing as objective truth, more akin to selling the latest fashion baubles and snake oil.
We’re just wired this way, and if you aren’t, you probably find us tedious, boring, and unimaginative. My wife of 56 years has mastered her “that’s enough” look, and my children, now middle-aged adults, tend to roll their eyes if I get going on any subject that even remotely involves engineering principles.
There’s a way to sum us up: we are “rational thinkers,” or at least think we are.
Recently I read two troubling columns of national interest. Both bothered me to the point of figuratively throwing my hands up in despair, concluding there is nothing I can do about the situations either describes.
After distracting myself on other things. like cooking the tasty chicken drumsticks and thighs we had for dinner, I had one of those “blinding flashes of the obvious.”
Many of you who reading this are in the second half of your life expectancy, I expect. If you are at all like me, you grew up being taught that policy and governing disputes are adjudicated by following a set of rules and laws established since America’s founding. Legislatures and similar bodies exist to debate various public concerns, propose solutions, and enact laws and regulations that implement the chosen changes.
Sure, the system can be rigged, power is wielded behind the scenes, but taken in the broad sense, we can all grasp the basics, and if we choose, run for office and become one of those who participates in law-making.
We follow more or less the same general format for our civic life, including sports. We expect everyone to play by the same rules, which are available to anyone interested. Basketball added the 3-point line. Baseball added the designated hitter, and other nuanced changes to play. These were all done via the processes and governing bodies established for exactly this purpose — maintaining the orderly conduct of the games and player behavior.
If you grew up with a similar understanding, your first reaction to the chaotic anarchy we are experiencing nationwide, and the rampant abdication of sworn duties involved, leads you to look to the ordered, established processes we have had since America was founded, to respond to the chaos and restore things to ordered civility where grievances and other concerns can be addressed accordingly.
Then it hit me. The current situation purposely and violently has abandoned any of the civilized mechanisms we have historically used to settle disagreements peacefully. The predominantly rational thought world I’ve spent my life in has been tossed aside and replaced with just the opposite….irrational thought, or comically, Bizarro World.
The protagonists violently reject any and all the mechanisms of a self-governing republic, and even worse, elected leaders, especially at the municipal levels, are intentionally and willfully joining in and encouraging the anarchy, mob rule, destruction to private and public property, and violence against private individuals and public officials.
In a word, they have totally and purposely trashed the frameworks of civility, fair play, and dispute settlement that most of us grew up with. It’s as if they came to a basketball game wielding clubs as part of their defense, and had their fans and cheerleaders throw rocks at the referees and players on the opposing team.
Not only that, but as a wise friend pointed out, they are attacking the very institution…the courts….created to adjudicate disputes among individuals and groups.
No wonder I feel so helpless that I don’t know what to do except throw my hands in the air. Our intellectual circuits have been hit by a massive lightning strike, and the CPU is looking for solutions to repair itself and re-establish some semblance of predictable performance.
I don’t know about you, but my “screen” is still showing nothing but that annoying hourglass signifying that the system is in overload, with no clue as to when an acceptable result will be delivered, if ever.