COMMENTARY

Fixing Problems Overnight  

In the likely event, as fate would have it, you are confronted with the dilemma of a man threatening suicide and a boy getting ready to shoot himself in the foot, do ask the suicidal elder, “Please hold while I tend to the more important task of dissuading the lad from starting bad”. Heaven can wait. Hell, not so much.

Our initial assessment usually involves some confusion about our usefulness in averting long disasters set in motion. What we consider as stopping a suicide – and our intervention fits that criterion- is actually a feel-good pause on a drama-filled pantomime. It’s a delay of game, at best, since the perspective or outlook has to be persuaded to a more hopeful reality.

The lad, on the other hand, is mirroring the hopelessness of the elder but is taking at first a gradual and incremental path in self-destructiveness. In other words, the lad is at the beginning of the cycle or pattern and has to be interrupted, failing which he will arrive in short order at the suicide point, the same point the elder is at. Consider the matter this way. Both are on the same self-destructive “mad is fad” path with the elder further along. Absent early intervention, the lad will achieve mad in geometric progression, dooming a later intervention.

What is at stake is not the particulars or the situations that promote “mad is a fad” but the failure to quickly interrupt any journey into hopelessness and deliver on the commitments required.

Moreover, shooting ourselves in the foot must be recognized for what it is: an unsolicited acceptance to destroy ourselves with gradual certainty rather than face a hostile world in which we are doomed to be underachieving underlings. This is a synopsis of our mental fortitude. It is the epitome of “No Confidence” in ourselves and demands a response.

So, how do we change this calibrated, celebrated view of ourselves even as we deny we hold this view of ourselves?

 The debate about our state of confidence needs not to be had. To what end? So that we can deny or challenge the motion? Indeed, it is a pointless and circular distraction to do so.

Instead, concrete actions reflecting our commitments to offer alternatives, while the familiar avenues to which we default to shoot ourselves in the foot must become less and less available as attractive options to explain or excuse our failures. Do insists that the suicidal elders wait, or better yet, lend their self-centered support to reforming the young.

My understanding of failures, whether yours or mine, is insightful, but to fix the failure, one must make our recourse to those same excuses unavailable and inadmissible.

In other words, if we are given unfettered options to mediocrity or excellence, given the prevailing mindset we exhibit, we will predictably choose mediocrity by an overwhelming majority. This is not a pleasant thought. It will and should offend many of us.

But is it a true representation where every day brings more frustrations, disappointments, excuses, and lamenting of, ” We didn’t get here overnight, and we are certainly not going to be able to fix our problems overnight,” which itself is a concession to a moribund status quo.

How dare we accept this gospel of mediocrity?

The good thing about all of this is that when we default to excellence, however, we are channeled, led, or optioned without any other recourse, we get satisfactory results. The issue then is not if we can but how to craft a disarming strategy that progressively ‘grandfather’ in skeptics and believers so that confidence can return to our governance and expectations are honored.

 Let’s start with our Basic Schools. A Breakfast initiative not only empowers the young but also engages our productivity.

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Peter Peterkin, Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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