“A box is just a box”
Perhaps because I’m getting older I see these kinds of pronouncements with a great deal of skepticism. ‘A box is just a box’ has a different meaning to me than most I guess and it’s not a place that I feel very comfortable in. I don’t like being told what I have to do and what I need or don’t need and I certainly don’t like being told what I should think.
Zbigniew Brzezinski is a Polish American, a political scientist, geostrategist and scholar who has served many Presidents including Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter right up to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The point is he is a man who still thinks ‘outside the box’. He is a visionary who, had people of influence paid more attention to back then–had they been more receptive and willing to look at a ‘different’ picture, could have helped to design a much different world than we have now. At least from a political point of view. Better? Worse? Whose to say for sure but it would have been different from the world that we see falling apart around us and are seemingly at a loss to determine how to fix. Last week I wrote about the comparison to other major empires of history and how we are on the same course as they were. This week my message is one of more hopeful solutions and possible outcomes. What did Zbigniew Brzezinski do differently? He thought and worked ‘outside the box.’ This is where I hope we go for our answers instead of depending on the same old approaches that have not proved very fruitful.
In our world today we still try to solve our domestic and worldly problems by throwing money at them and by ‘studying’ them to death. After a while studying things becomes a convenient political way of not making a decision or taking a stand on or against anything. It’s almost like saying ‘we don’t have any other ideas’. Studies are often a time and resource thief more often used for political purposes than for the good of the people who fund them. We let time decide many of our challenges rather than our ingenuity and creativity. We have become reactionary rather than proactive. Global warming has to be a leading example of that.
Our system has become one that is more and more dependent on ‘in the box’ thinking with a whole lot of hope tossed in the mix while our political and business leaders continue to gather wealth and power.
If we consider our education system, for instance, we see that we operate our schools using a very old, weary, unproductive and unchallenging grading system that actually hinders a child’s progress. Thinking outside the box would mean allowing a student to advance at their own speed studying topics and interests that excited them. Instead we tell them what they should be interested in and can’t understand why some don’t succeed. We punish them for being brilliant at something by holding them back from what they are passionate about. Our system is geared to teach those in the middle of the pack and ignore the students who are brilliant or fall short of the IQ needed to handle the subject matter. We need to get away from the ‘talking head’ at the front of the room and begin to take advantage of the teaching benefits of hands-on technology. Learning needs to be fun and for too many it is not. For some in this fast paced technological age school is downright boring and poses no challenges.
We are told that we are more free now than at any other time in our history and yet we have produced more laws to shape behaviour than at any other time. There is an illusion of freedom but our courts are full of frivolous lawsuits and petty complaints that could be handled outside the court system by a three person panel designed to select only those suits or complaints that actually suggest a legitimate need to be heard. Too often the courts are used by those hoping for a huge settlement that would guarantee an early retirement. A triage system comes to mind thereby freeing up valuable court time on matters that really have merit. We have more laws which, by their very nature, curtail our freedoms in the name of political correctness. Certainly our safety and our rights need to be safe guarded but can we actually be told and punished because we don’t wear a helmet? Common sense would tell us that wearing a helmet is the right thing to do but we make it a law.
We are told what side of the street to park on; we are told to shovel our side walks; we are told and our kids are told when and where and how to play in the ‘public’ park and what we can’t do there anymore.
We are told we cannot pray at school and many other public venues and we cannot speak our minds if that ruffles some feathers a little bit. Yet other groups are allowed to do what we are not allowed to do all in the name of political correctness. We are punished for non-compliance even though we have not had a say in how some of these ‘laws’ are conceived.
We spend millions of dollars housing a seat of government to impress who? to do what? Outside the box thinking suggests that, with technology today our representatives should be in their constituency office taking care of business instead of the paying public having to deal with an assistant. I voted for someone specific so I want to see him/her face to face when I got something that needs to be dealt with. Our representatives can deal face to face with their counterparts in Ottawa or wherever they are seated by Skype or emails. It would save hundreds of millions of dollars because our members wouldn’t have two housing allowances to cover plus all of the other expenses that includes things like security and housing costs hydro, gas, maintenance and so on. Sitting members have assistants who do much of the work behind the scenes anyway and ‘Question Period’ in the House is not only a waste of time but a true embarrassment as well. They can vote by encrypted email. It is no more dangerous than the robocalls people received during the last federal election or the discrepancies at some of the polling stations. In fact it may be more beneficial (meaning honest) this way.
Our families are becoming dangerously close to being irrelevant. Children can sue their parents and be ‘divorced’ from them. What does that mean anyway? The legal system, especially, when it deals with the rights of family, parenting and custody issues needs a dramatic overhaul and a new vision of what it means to be a part of a family. The family structure is close to defaulting. We need to be thinking outside the box when considering absentee fathers, for instance, and instead of punishing them when they can’t afford to pay support by jailing them or restricting their contact with their kids we need to come up with some ways to help mom make ends meet and also encourage dad to remain in touch with and accessible to his children. Perhaps tax credits at the end of the year to put some money back into dad’s pocket so he can afford to see and provide for his kids.
Pharmaceutical companies are telling us what drugs we need to take for all the new ‘diseases’ we are contracting. Meanwhile the side affects of these medications are lengthy and often worse than the illness they are supposed to be treating. Outside the box thinking might be as simple as having a regulatory body that doesn’t actually gain financially with the release of every new medication. The DSM5R, unless there is a newer one, is the ‘newest’ revised edition of the ‘bible’ that the psychiatrists use to determine whether a mental health diagnosis is warranted or not. Over the last few years mental health illnesses seem to have grown at an enormous pace to the point that most of us have some kind of mental health disorder according to this book. And make no mistake-there is a medication to treat it somewhere. There cannot be a virtually incestuous relationship that exists between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical treatment monopoly. Yet they do function in this manner, hand in hand and almost independently. They govern and discipline their members ‘in-house’ for instance. Outside the box thinking would allow chiropractors and health food/supplement producers to become recognized, legitimized and regulated as part of the bigger medical treatment system that would provide more options and at a lesser cost for governments as well as the public who don’t have medical insurance plans or any other coverage.
There is the media which has almost carte-blanche these days to put anything on the screen in prime time that supposes to provide good wholesome entertainment for our youth and younger ones. It really is about slaughter and mayhem dressed up in someones rights to produce it. At least have the good taste to put it on during the hours that our little people aren’t as exposed to it. The more ‘T and A’–blood and guts that can be jammed into an hour the better I guess.
We as citizens-as voters-as caring parents need to start thinking outside the box when we are deciding what kind of civil society we want to participate in. We can either continue to be ‘boxed in’ and told how to live our lives or we can decide to think outside the box and seek new approaches to old problems that haven’t been solved as yet.
WHAT KIND OF BOX SUITS YOU BEST? . . . LET ME KNOW.
Anyways, that’s how I see it–James
Please send me your comments pro/con. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
OR through my web page at: jamescloughley.com
If you are interested in knowing more about fatherless sons and what you can do to re-build those damaged relationships you can find out more on my web site as well. My book is called: ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’