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Clack Clack Swish

March 21, 2014

This year my 9-year old daughter read enough books in school to earn a free Portland Trail Blazers’ game ticket. Wanting to support her enthusiasm for literature I reneged on my promise to keep my hard-earned money out of the NBA’s hands and bought a ticket to accompany her to the game. For unexplained reasons they upgraded us to the 200 level and we ended up close enough to the court to be given a set of inflatable clackers – which she immediately began banging together inches from my head.

Clackers are handed out to fans sitting behind the backboard at basketball games. They’re two feet long and intended to be waved around and banged when the opposing team shoots free throws with the intention of distracting them. But you know what? They don’t work!

The best proof of their dysfunction I can offer is that the NBA – and its entourage of prima-donnas players – continues to allow them. Do you really think the professionals would allow fans to affect the outcome of a game with more than their voices? Try bringing a referee’s whistle to your next NBA event and see what happens when you blow it.

So why do clackers continue to be used when it’s obvious they’re a waste of money? The only answer that makes any sense is because everyone else is doing it.

There you have the human condition. The joint forces of momentum and the fear of falling behind are pushing us toward the brink of… something. Only a few of us will know what that something is right up to the moment when everybody knows and we’re all wondering why it took so long for everyone else to figure out.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop doing all the nonsensical things we did on a daily basis? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could free up the space to look at our lives and decide where we wanted to go instead of being pushed around by the ubiquitous demands of civilization?

If Aristotle’s ideas about motion retarded the development of mechanics for two thousand years (as Einstein said), Adam Smith may well have done the same thing for human compassion and community. Is our society as a whole deriving a benefit from its small population of ultra-rich? Judging by the popularity of the 99% movement I’d say not. And yet this is the logical conclusion of the free market. This is what Adam Smith wrote about and it’s what we’re taught in school. And it’s not working. So why are we banging our clackers together like it’ll make a difference?

You know the answer. There’s mouths to feed and bills to pay and if you just work a little harder maybe a vacation or a toy or two and it’s okay because everyone else is doing it too and even if you know it’s not sustainable there doesn’t seem to be any other choice that doesn’t involve swimming away from the ship into the great unknown and that’s scary and uncertain and you’ve been trained to only accept the scary and uncertain in two-hour segments with definitive endings but Hollywood is just searching for the next thing too and when they find it they’ll brand it and everyone will say they were hip before it was hip to be hip and sooner or later the new thing won’t work anymore and we’ll all be back to square one living with outdated morals and laws and arguing over syntax or diction or whether this is an exception that proves the rule or just an exceptional rule and all the while some of us will be searching for the next next thing and some of us will be hearkening back to the simple past but everything has to run its course and we’re just here for a short time so you can understand why some people don’t bother to think beyond their own lifespan but you can also understand why some do and it comes down to what you do with your time and whether you’ll feel fulfilled when it’s over and since everyone has different needs it’s only logical that things will get a little confusing but it doesn’t mean we have to accept it when someone tells us what we’re doing is wrong or if we don’t follow their advice terrible things will happen in this life or perhaps the next and there’s times when it seems everyone is telling you you’re doing it wrong so you almost come to believe they’re right but they’re just trying to get by too and they don’t really know you anyway so there’s no way they can know if you’re doing it right or not and in any case they’ve got their own problems they should be looking after and chances are they’re worse than yours because if they didn’t have any problems at all they certainly wouldn’t be wasting their time heckling you.

I’ve lost patience with accepting known dysfunction and with choosing a lesser evil in an attempt to mitigate or forestall a political or socio-economic crisis. If humanity’s momentum can only be altered by presenting a better alternative I see no benefit in trying to clack it slower. Let’s find the root of the problem and heal it instead of addressing its symptoms.

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From → Rants

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