There’s lots of ways to do things right, but so little variation in this particular way of doing things wrong.
Something that strikes me about that really long post I finally wrote last night. Is that there are so very many ways to do things right. Varying by context, culture, all kinds of things. But the mentality I’m talking about makes it sound like there’s only one way, even when on the surface it looks as if it’s promoting multiple approaches.
I have a hard time explaining the difference.
In all of the right ways to do things. It’s as if there may be shared values at the heart of it — specifically, deeply caring what happens to people. But put those values into different contexts and cultures, and they’re like a seed — or a variety of seeds in different combinations — that can grow into a huge variety of different shapes, so much that if you only look on the surface you’d never know they’re stemming from something very similar.
But the other way of doing things, the way I am criticizing. It’s all surface with no heart. And the only way it ever looks different is if you take a bunch of surface elements and rearrange them into something that looks new but isn’t. Like chopping it up and mixing and matching, rather than letting it grow from the source.
And even when people start out with that element of caring what happens to people. This thing happens. Where their caring encounters the maze-like structure I’m criticizing. And suddenly all these people. With different life experiences, different cultures, all these differences. Suddenly those things end up flattened out and standardized until it’s all alike. Even when it looks different it’s the same elements rearranged in new ways.
The right ways of doing things, they let various combinations of basic values take root and grow into wildly varying shapes and textures depending on their surroundings and what needs to be done in different situations.
The things I am criticizing. They didn’t really grow from deep roots to begin with. They were developed by minds, up in the air, not touching the ground. People may come into it with deep values the same as anyone. But what happens is this structure, this framework. It takes anything that grows from those roots, and wraps them around this structure until they’re forced to create the same shape over and over again. Then the roots are severed from the structure entirely. It doesn’t need them. Very Borg-like.
If an appearance of variation is required, then what happens is this. They take that structure, the one that’s always basically the same. They cut it up. They cut it up without regard for its natural boundaries. Then they rearrange it and glue or tape it back together in a variety of shapes. Those shapes may vaguely resemble, on a surface level, the various shapes things would naturally take in a certain context. (With the real thing, even the same context can have tons of variations after all.) But they’re not at all the same as the real thing. They’re a crappy simulation and they will not truly work regardless of context.
It’s like that difference between alike and equal. The thing I’m criticizing tries to make everything alike, even when it claims it’s doing the opposite. The right ways of doing things are not alike at all. But they are of equal underlying value to the world. They all help make things better for real live people. And that’s what actually matters, that gets lost in that abstract framework. It’s funny how much something that claims to care about diversity, is not diverse.
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