Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What does activism mean, really?

You know, people like to say something, usually in reference to politics: If it ain't broke, don't fix it (IIABDFI).

"Fix" and "broke". Nice choice of words. Seems to imply something mechanical.

So let's apply this precept to engineering!

Do we maintain the same technology year after year, only fixing problems when they crop up? Or do we seek to improve them a bit?

If we do, then

Would it be better to continually improve the oil lamp, or replace it with something entirely different--say, a lightbulb?

Do we just keep souping up our horse and wagon, or shall we overturn the whole damn system and drive cars?

IIABDFI is, we can see, an entirely silly aphorism based on--what, ignorance and lack of basic sense? Often the best thing is not to fix what ain't broke, but improve upon it.

And the greatest advances in human history are based on sweeping away what came before entirely, and making something new.

It is taking an active stance towards world affairs and society. We don't seek to repair what's broken (return to the past, which nostalgia proves was better). We may make small improvements.

And sometimes we'll pull out the tablecloth from under the dishes and change the whole thing. And that's gonna be a good thing, in the long run, and people have to learn to cope.

Activism. Not trying to preserve order or return to an older state of being, but advance in a new and better one.

1 comment:

Haley said...

Wonderful. This is brilliance. It just makes so much sense.

There was this thing Jay Leno (vomit) wrote recently about how Americans are so selfish and spoiled and bitchy and horrible because they want change. That's what I got from it at least. There was some poll that said around 79% (don't quote me on that stat) of Americans are unhappy with the state of our nation, and it pissed him off, so he wrote about all the great things we have that the rest of the world doesn't, to make us feel bad about whining. And yeah, the guy had a point, I hate to admit it. But it wasn't the point he thought it was. We ARE all selfish brats, no doubt, and we shouldn't take the dumb luck of being born into this cushy country for granted. But when it comes to the state of the nation, that's EXACTLY WHY we should be dissatisfied right now.

I feel like we had some sort of debate relating to this in Demosthenian too, though I can't put my finger on when or what it was actually about. It irks me when people play that card--"shut up and quit yer whinin'." Well, about petty things, sure, by all means we should. But the democracy we take so much pride in gives us the PRIVILEGE and thus the RESPONSIBILITY to change things when we think they are wrong. So if Americans think America is being irresponsible with our power and privilege, then--gosh, I just sound so patriotic--it really is our DUTY to fix it.

So haha, there's another lengthy procrastination comment inspired by your bloggings, sir. Sorry for the novels.