Thoughts That Hurt to Think #061 – Life doesn’t work if we’re all the same!

Some of us may think political parties have never been so much at odds as they are today, while others realize people have a tendency to remember the past with less color than they view the present. The truth is that although political parties may have literally switched sides a time or two throughout our country’s relatively short history, they have always been at odds with each other.

However, any effective politician or political historian will tell you that neither side is right or wrong; both sides need to exist for any political system to work, as do both types of political personalities. Maybe there’s a better way to do it than swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other, but we can’t all just be in some central party. That’s a different political system altogether, one we can be glad we don’t have here.

But, hey…maybe kingdoms aren’t really so bad. Some of them still remain, but at one time there were pretty much nothing but kingdoms and empires the whole world over. Perhaps if we got to talk to people from all walks of life from throughout history, we might find a few kingdoms that seem even more wonderful than our own republic.

After all, we can’t all want the same things. Then there would be very little of one or two things and a ridiculous surplus of everything else. We can’t all be politicians; there would be no one to tax to pay the politicians! We can’t all be auto mechanics or farmers or carpenters; although an argument can be made that learning a little bit of everything will make you more effective overall, at some point you have to weigh the benefits of general learning against the rewards of specialization.

Even back in days of old, you had a blacksmith and a baker and a farmer somewhere in town to specialize in bringing a large number of people a product to create some level of convenience to them. As far back as we can see commerce happening in some form or another, we can also see how people with certain proclivities were able to leverage their skills to the point where they had to hire others to help them. Although business owner and employee are two completely different people, both need to exist if the other is going to.

There was a time when I resisted categorizing personalities, until I wanted to learn a little more about my own. The most important first lesson in all of it was that personality types are more about internal leanings than they are about good or bad. In fact, all the different personality types complement each other; they come together in a way that is sometimes harmonious and sometimes not so much, but the friction caused by that coming together leaves each of us a little better for it. Whether we see something we want to avoid others seeing in us or something worth emulating, those interactions give us a sounding board for our own inner dialogue.

Nearly every introvert can remember their reaction the first time they met someone wholly extroverted, how they likely climbed into an inner shell while someone loudly proclaimed every little thought that crossed their mind nearby; but these are the people who teach us how to climb out of ourselves, and share in a filtered happy medium between one extreme and the other. They might even take something from seeing us sitting quietly in a corner, trying not to look as awkward as we feel. That can’t be the point of any interaction, of course; all that can matter to each of us is what we take away from it. Considering the possibility doesn’t do any harm, though.

After a lifetime of interactions like these, we might learn to strike that balance; but we’ll still have our natural tendencies. And you know what? That’s okay! The truth is that life doesn’t work if we’re all the same, and maybe the best way to deal with people that aren’t the way we think they ought to be is to remind ourselves of that from time to time. People might love to choose sides, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be nice to folks that aren’t on the same side as us.

Most people want to write a book someday, I think around ninety percent. When I first learned that I thought it was kind of weird; I mean, the percentage of people who want to do any other single thing is not nearly so high, and life would end up seriously lopsided if it were. Could you imagine a nation of police officers, or firefighters? At some point I realized that this is a different desire, though; then my perspective on it shifted.

Naturally, there was a time when I wanted to write a book. Then I wrote one, and…lo, and behold! I felt I needed to write another, and another. The feeling hasn’t stopped, and I am continually grateful to have ideas lining up at my doorstep with increasingly compelling stories to tell. Most people don’t imagine that for themselves, though. They want to write that one book that distills everything they have learned or experienced, and then move on to other things. Some of them may be bitten by the bug, like I was; but most won’t, and even more won’t ever actually even write that first book.

And that’s okay. One of the reasons I wanted to write a book for so long is because I had read so many. Finding an author that really spoke to me was a special thing, and I always wondered what it was like to be on the other side of the page. It’s natural that anyone who has ever read a good book likes the idea of writing one themselves; but it’s also natural for them to never find the time. I wish I had known back before I wrote my first book that it was okay for me to never write a book; it may sound strange, but I felt a certain pressure to write that seemed like it kept me from completing that first book for a long time. Maybe if someone had told me it was okay to just be a reader who appreciates what they read, I would have been able to complete it sooner.

Then again, maybe I would have never gotten started on it. A timeline like that sort of makes me shudder, so I guess that internal pressure was a good thing. I didn’t have that kind of drive when it came to playing music, back before my brain was fully formed; but I can still draw from an analogy I came up with back in those days. Everyone has a song in them, and some people even write their own; but a few people put out album after album, and they create the songs for all the people that can’t make their own. It’s the same with cars, computers, houses and books…the more time and attention you put on getting better at that thing you’re good at, the more you have to offer to others. As long as we’re all completely different, this can result in us having a wide variety of products and services to choose from while being a specialist in just one thing.

A lot of people may have specialized themselves into a corner in many instances in our country, but there’s always another specialty to move into. It’s kind of like the threat of annihilation; as one set of ideas become unpopular, another moves in to take their place. Some of us can remember watching videos of kids in the fifties and sixties being drilled on what to do in case of a nuclear attack; we laughed at them in my class, since we all knew hiding under a desk was no way to escape radiation; but we weren’t scared of the possibility of nuclear war like they had been. We were aware of the real threat, a slow insidious doom even more scary than nuclear war.

In just a few years, we were told, the ozone layer would be almost gone. My generation was advised to look forward to a lifetime of SPF 4000 sunblock beginning sometime about twenty years ago; yet here we are, looking back at them and laughing about their dire predictions. Of course, global warming is the hot topic of the day; and we don’t dare not take that seriously. We could be reasonable and call it climate change, since that has happened since the beginning of the planet; but we should still take it seriously. After all, this is the only planet we’ve got.

Or we could take the long view on all of it, and wonder why every recent generation has an ‘end of everything’ scenario to obsess over. For the longest time nearly everyone in the western world was just waiting for Jesus to come back and end it all, but even most Christians have stopped doing that. We have very real threats to pinpoint, and we clearly have good reason to be worried. Right?

Maybe, maybe not. We’ll explore the tendency to think your generation will be the last, and to imagine some threat that will be the end of everything, in next week’s post. We’ll even try to be lighthearted about it, although it is a pretty heavy subject. I hope you enjoyed this week’s post, and that you come back next week for…

‘The world is always ending!’

Thanks for reading!

All the best,

J.K. Norry
The Secret Society of Deeper Meaning
Twitter: @JayNorry

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