I have built my life around the idea that being part of the solution to a problem is far better than being part of the problem. You try not to worry too much about who caused the problem. Instead you focus on finding a solution.
It is a good way to live. However, in practice it is a little harder than you might think to let go of the knowledge that someone put you in a situation that created the problem you have to solve, but it does get easier the more you do it.
Living this way is also fundamentally different from agreeing to almost anything just to get something off your plate.
Being part of the solution means you still have to figure out the problem and come up with a fix that keeps it from happening again. Saying yes just to get beyond a problem for a while does not solve anything.
So many people today spend much of their time caught up in the world of personality. Problems and especially solutions are lost in the idea that if this person is for this, I have to be against it. Not only do I have to be against it, but I have to be against it until my dying day. It seems one bad idea can potentially turn someone into a bad person even if they have a history of good ideas. In world defined by personalities, there is no room for compromise. Not surprisingly there is also no common sense.
I recently wrote an article about some experiences in my two and one half years on the board of our Home Owners Association. I have come to see the HOA as a microcosm of the problems of our country's government.
Trying to run an HOA without getting someone mad at you is impossible. On the one hand there is always one group of people who think you are not strict enough in enforcing the covenants. On the other hand there is another group complaining that you are too strict on enforcement.
Sandwiched in between these groups are some people who want the whole thing to fail. They just want to do what they want. Your efforts, no matter what, are just another stumbling block to those dedicated to bringing the whole thing down.
Often the people who want everything to work and who are willing to obey the rules are the silent ones. The noisy ones are the same ones who think rules are for everyone but them. They are the same folks who upon seeing a sign that two lanes are merging into one take it as a license to zoom past everyone until the last possible moment and then force their way into the line.
They are also the people who will argue with a telephone pole and pick apart any solution that does not meet their narrow self interest. Because unfortunately their narrow self interest often includes seeing those who are trying to govern fail, often the end result is that nothing gets done.
In the failure of others they sense power but often it is just a delusion. When they create a hostile environment that drives out the people qualified to do the job, they are often left to wrestle with their own inability to govern or accomplish anything. Tearing down something is far different than building something or accomplishing a mission.
Because they know no sense of compromise, they are often are so blinded by their own bias that they cannot even grasp that someone is actually trying to help them.
In essence they have become ungovernable. Their baser instincts have overwhelmed any sense of common good. The desire to see their "enemy" fail is so strong that they are quite willing to sacrifice their own interests.
It is a huge paradox. How do you govern people who do not want the best even for themselves? Their pleasure comes only from seeing the failure of others even if the failure makes their own lives worse.
A concrete example came out of our most recent HOA meeting. On the agenda of our meeting was a modification to our covenants. You try to only modify covenants to make things better for people not worse.
We proposed to change our covenants which only allow one sand blasted real estate for sale sign in a person's yard. The modification would have allowed standard sheet metal real estate signs which is what we already have illegally in the subdivision now. The modification also had the association putting up a sign at the gates to the subdivision with information on how to find out what was for sale or rent.
One of the people who has made a career out of arguing with telephone poles decided that the rule was designed to prevent real estate directional signs outside our gates. His aggressiveness in arguing his point turned just enough people against the amendment to cause it to fail. It is hard to get a two thirds majority in a small community even on something that should be uncontroversial.
He was determined to see it fail because the current board brought it forward. Of course he neglected to understand that by making the amendment fail, he ended up forcing the hand of the board. Instead of making the signs we have legal, it means all real estate signs will really have to be sandblasted and the directional signs at the gate will have to go. As a board we now have no choice but to enforce the old covenant.
That $200 per sign will come right out of the sales price of his home. On top of that we will now have to remove his cherished real estate directional signs outside the gate. Because the amendment failed we will not be putting a sign there to replace them. Instead of getting more advertising for his home, he will be getting less but he got the pleasure of seeing the board fail in its efforts to help him. He got a hollow victory.
Is it any wonder that it is hard to help some people?
Unfortunately I have no solution for the ungovernable crowd. They cannot be appeased and when they take over government, they are unqualified to govern. The future is not bright unless we can figure this out.