Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Speak Friction

What do you do when it's election day and you know you're on the losing side before you even enter the ballot box (or tube or data input station)?

I'm a big believer in speaking your truth, even if it's the smallest speak in the room. I think we minimize that action at times because we don't see how it can turn the whole ship around-- and very often it's true that it just won't make an enormous difference.

But I like Thoreau's image--

Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

Thoreau may overstate his case a bit (I know-- shocking from Thoreau) but I like the idea of friction. Friction doesn't necessarily stop the machine, but it always affects the way the machine runs. And sometimes that's good enough.

Smart money says that by midnight tonight, Andrew Cuomo will still be governor. But just as with the primary election, there is a huge difference between a Cuomo who's swept into office and one who just barely squeaks through the door as crowds holler at him (a huge difference in particular for Cuomo 2016's Presidential dreams). 

It's the same way you may not be able to flat-out stop your school district from doing Something Stupid, but you can keep it from being an easy, unanimous Stupid. You can't always prevent people from achieving a bad goal. Sometimes the best you can do is make people work for it, and that affects the energy they have to implement it, which in turn sets the stage for failure, which may one day lead to a bunch of people coming to you to say, "Hey, tell me again about why this was a dumb idea."

Sometimes you're friction. Sometimes you're playing a long game.

And sometimes you just want to sleep at night. You want to be able to say, "I did what I could. I said what I had to say. I didn't sit silent in the face of Something Wrong." And sometimes that's as good as it gets.

Yes, voting in elections in this country sucks these days, with a full buffet of bought-and-paid-for tools. But as long as it all runs smoothly, they can tell themselves, "Hey, this is going great! No problems at all." So be a friction. Speak your piece. Get out there, hold your nose, and vote.

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