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The media was filled with good advice again this morning. We should love each other, work together, and somehow stop believing that we can convince anyone we consider stupid. I feel reasonably certain none of these perfectly reasonable suggestions will find any more traction this day than they have for the whole history of human experience so far, but I could be wrong. They hold that special place in this weary world, a space I refer to as Good Ideas.

When I worked at the insurance company, I frequently accused executive management of leading exclusively with essentially vacuous Good Ideas. A Good Idea sounds really good. Who could possibly argue against loving each other? No contrary argument holds even half the allure of an even half-baked Good Idea. Even though they omit more than they deliver, they deliver plenty. They inspire us to aspire, a powerful combination we seem helpless to deflect. Candy dangled before an eternal baby.

Another morning, another whispered promise to do better than we did the day before. A Groundhog Day scenario endlessly replayed. Good Advice moving the inner Sisyphus to get on with rolling that boulder back up that hill again. Most projects muster from some Good Idea, only to later learn (or is it re-learn?) why that idea might not have been quite as good as it originally sounded. Deified into purpose, parody emerges as we emphatically insist that we really ARE doing what we no longer believe possible to achieve.

I know of no antidote. Though I've searched for much of my adult life for some reliable way of deflecting these essentially poisonous memes from infecting me, they still reliably infect me. I might conclude that this little bug has feature written all over it and simply surrender. Instead, I watch myself wrestle with what might well be an essential skepticism, and still almost always choose to swallow the Good Idea, usually along with the hook and sinker.

The alternatives, rejecting such obviously positive influence just seems crotchety to most. Even the politically canny strategy of simply going along to get along until the usual complications arrive does little to reduce the effect those complications bring. A slow motion train wreck is still a train wreck. 'I told you so' stopped working in third grade. Choosing not to play leaves the prescient isolated where they could never influence anything. We seem destined to tag along behind some essentially clueless Good Idea generator.

If you doubt this assertion, try on the leader's sneakers. You will leave behind similar footprints. Inspiration despises reason. Aspiration finds critical thinking irrelevant. We must, it seems, pursue what we know deep down we can never achieve, filled first with Good Ideas before backfilling with more workable ones, usually in extremis. We call this compromise, though mostly, only starry eyes get forfeited. The final story seems messy in comparison, and mostly cannot ever be told.

©2017 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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