Everything Is Broken And It Might Be Fine
There are problems everywhere, and maybe people won’t care.
The delightful, empowering truth that there are problems everywhere, things should fall apart tomorrow according to most logic, and maybe people won’t care. And how that factors into the decision-making process.
Humans function incredibly well in dysfunction.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make things better.
It just means that if you don’t factor in how people often continue to manage in problematic situations then you’ll misjudge the situation.
According to the rules of many economic, social, and political theories that make perfect sense, the economy of the United States should have already failed many times over and should be a pile of wreckage due to social and political strife. Not only that, but the logical result is the rest of the world should fall into shambles too.
And that might happen. We’ve had horrible things happen in most parts of human history.
But what has happened so far is annoyed people who want to live their lives have continued to fix, or repurpose, broken things and systems.
For all of human history, millions of people have had dysfunctional relationships for their entire lives, and they raised children, and those children grew up slightly better than their parents. Which was all their parents wanted for them, a better life. Yes, the children were traumatized, and as they grew up, they passed down that trauma to their children.
But they kept going. And a lot of them, if you were to ask them, would say their childhood was fine and they were doing fine and would you leave them alone thank you very much.
Abuse, atrocities, and just plain stupid things that shouldn’t have worked. People come up with terrible ideas all the time and just keep going. Yes, there’s a website devoted to something called the Darwin Awards, where the people who accidentally removed themselves from the gene pool due to stupidity are honored. People make a lot of fatal mistakes. But humanity keeps going.
Wars that inspire new artwork and babies, broken homes that push people to ambition and betterment, businesses that remain unprofitable for decades, are vilified for their actions, and provide living wages to millions of families in the process. This is all normal.
People are astonishingly resilient. And they like to yell about how everything sucks as they make things better. And, of course, sometimes yelling is part of the process.
This isn’t a stupid repetition of the idea, “Things have been fine for years, why change now? We need to stick to the old ways of doing things.” That’s often a very destructive message. Though we should respect historical discoveries of useful truths (fancy phrasing of the word, “tradition”). People’s ability to make things better is a big part of what makes us persevere… adaptability. It’s in the nature of people to figure stuff out and make it better. And we should make things better.
But from a decision-making perspective. It’s important to see the reality of the things going wrong in the world and understand that, a lot of times, people just keep going.
The investment terminology is, “The markets can stay irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”
In other words. It’s possible to be “right” in a situation where no one cares.
And, if you don’t factor this into your decision-making, you will make mistakes.
A lot of conversation in the world today is based on the premise that things a bad, they’re worse than they usually are, and if we don’t act now then everything will end.
That’s an excellent call to action but a bad lifestyle.
It pumps you full of every fight or flight chemical your body can make.
And it doesn’t encourage you to sit down and get to work and build something worthwhile, which is how you change the world… boring, slow, insightful work that leads to exponential growth.
Maybe your dysfunctional relationship is a mess. But realizing that doesn’t mean you should be ashamed, that it should (or will) end and you have failed. It means you’re normal, and you can probably take a look at that relationship and make it better.
Maybe your company did nothing but buy back stock for the last twenty years. If you keep doing so, you’re a bit of an idiot (personal opinion), but it doesn’t mean the whole thing needs to be destroyed. Maybe you should pivot to a direction that adds more value to the world.
The fact that everything is broken and will probably keep going doesn’t mean you should lay back and do nothing, and it doesn’t mean you should panic. It means you can relax about the existential nature of it all and get to work.
Maybe the economy will fail, and everything will blow up tomorrow.
But I think it’s incredibly empowering to know that, historically speaking, that would be pretty normal too.
Everybody is a wreck and that’s normal. Which means you can stop worrying about it and go make it better. Because that’s what people do.