Back to Basics

When you practice a piece of music, if there’s a tricky part you are not getting, you disassemble it. You break it down into pieces. You work the pieces – just the right hand here, for one measure. Very slowly. Does each note flow one to the next using the fingerings you’re using? No? Try this? OK, that works, but you need to get it in muscle memory. So you practice it slowly using various rhythms until it doesn’t seem weird any more. And you do the same with the left hand and then you put it together.

If you are writing a computer program, or solving a problem, and it seems overwhelming, you break it down into pieces. You split it up, and look at the pieces, and maybe that piece still seems unsolvable, but this other piece over there, well, we know how to deal with that, so we solve that one and then that’s one little bit we don’t have to think about any more. We break it down into smaller and smaller bits until the bits are small enough that they are solveable.

But you need to do that backtracking step.

You have an organizational disagreement. And attempts to solve it are not working. OK, what’s the common goal? Well, it may be that the stated common goal is not actually the common goal. So let’s examine that. One reason for an organization to develop a mission statement is that you can use it to resolve such conflicts. The stated goal of the organization is this, so which action brings us closer to that? Fred over here wants to do something else, but what he wants to do doesn’t support the mission statement. So, sorry, Fred.

Our Declaration of Independence declared that it was self evident that all men are created equal. This isn’t spelled out in the constitution exactly, but the 14th Amendment guarantees “equal protection of the laws”.

So I wish our public figures would back up. Remind us why the policing problems are problems. Something as simple as ‘their charge is to do this and they are doing this instead and that goes against our mission statement’.

Adults need to be self-aware enough to realize that there is definitely something innate in us that says ‘other is bad’, but that’s no more valid than ‘bugs are scary’ or ‘I have to eat that entire cake’. And just because you grew up eating [insert favorite regional dish here] and these new neighbors come from a country you’ve never heard of and eat [some unique cuisine form their culture] doesn’t mean that there’s something inherently bad about what they eat or good about what you eat. No one is forcing you to eat their food, eat what you like.

Anyone who can get past that primal, ‘they look weird, and don’t dress like I do, and maybe smell different, so ick go away’ can open up and see that people are people, no matter where they come from. They want to succeed, take care of their families, have fun. If you look at what’s important to you- power, strength, wisdom, kindness, talent, you will find someone to admire from any race or culture. If you take a look at what’s repugnant to you, whatever that may be, you will find someone to disdain from any race or culture.

But if you cling to the notion that your race or culture makes you inherently better than any member of a certain other race or culture, you’re just an idiot. If you are looking to find pride in yourself, that’s not the way to go. Everyone has things that they do well and things that they do badly. The notion, for instance, so clearly embraced by white supremacists that the ‘lowest white man is higher than the highest black man’ is as nonsensical as claiming that every man is six feet tall. How anyone can look at, oh let’s just say BARACK OBAMA and feel hatred because he’s a black man and how dare he be smart and funny and wise and good and giving and the president… they must spend their days tying themselves into mental knots because their worldview is so askew from reality.

So again, I wish that our public figures would reiterate, over and over again, the basics. We are all the same. We are all people. There is no other.

(arrrgh I want to get into policing specifically, but it feels like that’s too much for right now)


Is anyone going to be surprised when, after a week of protests and uprising, COVID-19 cases spike even further? The virus hasn’t gone away, people.


Yeah, I’ve probably got a bunch of chatter and silly news that I could share. Let’s not do that right now.


This post is part of a larger project, #MOC19. Read more about the Mass Observation COVID-19 project here

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