Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Bigger the System, the Bigger the Trust: An Essay on the Convenience of Complacency

When our kids were little and we were on holidays we always ate at Smitty’s restaurants. We ate at Smitty’s restaurants because the food was great, the prices were reasonable, and there was always a big parking lot. Very rarely did we eat elsewhere when driving down some summer holiday highway.

We, the hoi polloi, tend to trust big systems, and I’m referring to the macedoine of big systems of anything. We trust the school systems, the police systems, the sports and leisure systems, the service systems; we trust in our churches and we trust in our governments. Generally, all these big systems are predictable, easy to orbulate and therefore easy tolerate.

When our little ones march off to kindergarten we trust they will be safe. And when these same offspring strut across the graduation stage, we trust that they are prepared for more school, work, or whatever. Generally, when we take our children to hockey rinks and soccer pitches and baseball diamonds, we trust they’ll be safe there, too. When we have our children participate in church activities, we trust they’ll be safe. When we eat in restaurants we trust the food will be nourishing. When we go to a medical facility we trust in method and technology. We trust our municipalities to maintain our sidewalks and roads and water systems. We trust our provincial governments to maintain and produce jobs. And we trust our federal governments to do the right thing with regard to the globalization of the economy and international countryships. And especially, we trust the world governors to keep our planet safe.

Bigger systems have a gloze of being better, but certainly are not better.
Specifically, when anything goes awry, and anyone familiar to us is affected in a negative manner, we lose our faith and prescience patience and realize all of our big systemic beliefs really are just a rash of lies.

This is our archetypal epiphany. We eventually become cognizant that our tolerance for big systems is simply due to our complacency. We know what absolute power can do. We know teachers who are incompetent. We know coaches and clergy who are predators. We wait in line at medical facilities. We tip for food poisonings. We hit bumps in the roads. We go to war. Our planet is at risk.

Still, in spite of being aware of these counterpatterns, the more familiar the system, the safer we feel; the more unfamiliar the system, the more we are skeptic. If we choose to follow such agreed upon big thinking, then big symphonies and big choirs are certainly trustworthy; whereas we ne’er-do-wells, we sidewalk string playing pan-handlers of the infra dig simply cannot be trusted.

From my fellowship of the untrusted ruck, here is my Chaucerian Parade of characters for this week:

• Two male adolescents, fifteen or so years of age want me to pull some beer for them at the nearby liquor store.
We’ll pay you ten dollars, one of them says.
Take a hike and have a nice day, I reply. (Had I not been a busker and just some guy climbing out of a car to shop, I doubt I’d been asked.)

Johnny, a real liquor store 70's looking denim busker, comes by to listen to my playing the banjitar.
I wish I could play like you, he says. (Though I’m but a strummer and thrummer, Johnny thinks I’m a virtuoso. I’m thinking he’s a novice.)

• And surprise! Devon, an unofficial member of a buskship from three years ago on the mean streets of Victoria, British Columbia stopped for a chat. On that particular Victoria buskation, each day I’d chat with Christian, who played a sitar, Christina, the bag lady, and Devon, who played guitar and harmonica. There were others in the busking community, but it was these three specifically who I focused on when writing my song, The Minstrel Street.
Devon is now employed at Street Culture (a safety net for wayward youth) in Regina, Saskatchewan.

I’ve just read that a NASA rogue satellite shall be soon hurled upon this side of our planet, the odds of the debris striking one of us being one in 21 trillion. Heads up, fellow street buskers, and keep your fingers crossed ... Kerplunk!

1 comment:

  1. One in 21 trillion chance of being hit by a satellite, but what were the odds of running into Devon in Regina!!!