Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Sunday musings…Others

Sunday musings…

1) Ninjabread Men. The world’s coolest cookie cutters!

2) Back-up QB. The most popular player on every losing team in football.

3) Role-player. Every team has a structure of sorts. In every sport success depends on players filling certain specific roles, the sum of which hopefully leads to success. It is only the most unusual team, either a “one-off” or that most special of teams that is the harbinger of a truly new paradigm, that doesn’t have all of the same pieces parts in the same place doing the same things. Whether tradition-bound or cutting edge, though, the roles assigned and accepted on a team are designed with only one thing in mind: winning.

We all play on a team of sorts, one we call The Family. Just like team sports there are roles assigned in The Family, and just like a team sport the role you play is likely to be one in which you are locked for your entire “career”. The difference, of course, is that the assignation of roles and the execution of those roles in The Family have absolutely no association with the pursuit of winning. Odd, huh? But essentially true.

Other goals certainly apply, other outcomes. Peace, or maybe detente. Quiet, or maybe just calm. Loud, boisterous, the (outward) picture of success. At various points in the “season” the roles assigned and played may actually produce something that DOES look like winning. That’s really cool.

The other difference between team and The Family is that the players on the team are ever changing, added and subtracted as necessary to continue winning, and any given player may actually take on a different role in this pursuit of victory. Not in The Family, though. Ooooooh no, not there. No, the role you’ve been assigned never, ever changes. Nor does it change for anyone else until someone is retired forever.

It took me years–many years– and an observant Mrs. bingo pointing this out, before this sunk in. There is no evolution, no paradigm shift, no revolutionary coach or system on the way when you go home this Christmas. Everything will be the same, a little Groundhog Day for the Holiday. The team will not have changed and every role player will play the same role.

Even you.

4) Other. The original “word” for this thought was to be “enemy”, but the more I thought about it the less that seemed to apply. You see, “enemy” is really a very simple concept, one that is just too black-and-white in this world of grey in which we live. An enemy is nothing more or less than someone who has openly declared intent to do you harm. Nothing too very ambiguous about that.

This is very different from a person who dislikes you, or someone you dislike. It’s fundamentally different from someone who is angry at you. These folks can simply be ignored; they can be consigned to the trash heap of indifference. I’ve been known to say that it’s perfectly OK to make an enemy as long as you’ve done it on purpose so that you can assess the ramifications beforehand. Re-thinking this in light of a more accurate definition of “enemy” probably changes my tactical advise to “it’s OK to make someone angry at you.”

This is important today as we traverse our lives with our “situational awareness goggles” on high, important when we identify someone who is better described as “other” as “enemy” or “possible enemy”. By any measure we actually live in a world which is incredibly safe. We are not surrounded by legions of enemies but rather by “others”, people who stand apart for one reason or another as different. Maybe even odd.

If we view our world as one which is inhabited by only friends or enemies we are at risk to categorize these “standouts” as dangerous until proven otherwise, all data to the contrary. We are at risk to extrapolate the actions of one “other” to all, even those who share nothing with those villains besides their “otherness”. Is this really necessary?

Frankly, my worldview as a young man was very narrow, my willingness to even let the “others” be something less than zero. No, “others” were to be feared or ridiculed; they were certainly not meant to be ignored, let alone accepted. Now? Most of the “others” are just varying degrees of different, nothing more. Pick a number…99point whatever % are just that and will never be anything more diabolical or dangerous than a friend might be. They will never be an enemy, no matter how much their “otherness” sets us apart.

For most of us the world is filled with friends and others. We just don’t have that many enemies known or yet to be discovered. I do not advocate replacing our “situational awareness goggles” with “pollyanna specs”, but we really don’t need to have the setting on “high alert”. The risk of the false positive, the risk of identifying an “other” as an enemy is very, very high because there really are very, very few real enemies. Very few people who mean you, or anyone, true harm.

Don’t let the cacophony resulting from the rare sighting of an enemy, of evil, blind you to the fact that those who will not be your friends are almost always just “others.”

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at December 23, 2012 8:26 AM


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