Defying Convenience

I’m not one to generalise, but-

One of life’s most common conveniences is generalising.  We all do it.  I’ve heard it described as an important survival tactic, evolved from years of hunter/gathering.  You see a large predator acting aggressively in a particular way and looking right at you and your buddies minding your own business while stalking the same antelope.  The angry predator suddenly charges at you and you’re now one buddy short of a good hunting party.  You rightly assume that all creatures of this kind pose a potentially mortal threat when on the hunt and avoid future encounters.

Likewise when working in the early community gardens of our ancestors you notice a long, slithery thing that bites a fellow horticultural executive who subsequently develops a bad case of death.  You feel within your moral right to generalise about long, slithery things, especially when elbow deep in the earth.

We generalise and generalise and generalise.  Why?  Why do we still seek to limit our understanding of the world to simplistic, arbitrary categorisation even though the vast weight of collective human history is at our fingertips and our own personal experience and knowledge would confirm what we know in our hearts?  Because it’s convenient.  It’s easier to generalise about people, cultures, races, countries, religions than it is to explain and take into account the myriad, sophisticated nuances of human existence and why bad, weird and random shit just happens – especially when you’re trying to make a particularly spurious point about [insert ethnic minority here] during smoko.

Here’s a few goodies related to the themes of this blog for you to chew over:

  • Cars are bad.
  • People who don’t own cars are good.
  • People who drive are bad.
  • Convenience is bad.

None of these are our assumptions in this blog.  That would be too easy.  Convenience isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  We’re not advocating throwing out our amazing stick blender for example.  But as they say, too much of a good thing…

It can be used as a weapon against us as Kevin E. Abrams suggests in his interesting opinion piece A Tyranny of Convenience (now there’s a good name).

The method by which a corporate or state socialist cartel achieves power is through seducing people into giving up their responsibilities because it is “convenient.” They do this because they understand authority and responsibility go hand-in-hand. By relinquishing our basic responsibilities we forfeit our authority.

In other words, it just makes us lazy.

Racial stereotypes are convenient.  Religious stereotypes are convenient. Mental illness stereotypes are convenient.  Except of course, they aren’t for the millions of people in question.

So do we really want life to be just about the avoidance of effort?

Are we hoping to leave ‘a bit in the tank’ for the last part of the game?

What on earth are we saving ourselves for? From?

Life is effort.  Even avoiding effort takes effort. What I think I’m coming to understand is, you’ve got to love the effort.


4 thoughts on “Defying Convenience

  1. Yes yes yes. You know I’ve always been a fan of effort. That’s the whole appeal of triathlons, hiking, Beethoven sonatas. These are a few of my favourite things…

  2. There is also effort in doing nothing! What I mean is that to just ‘be’ and stop ‘doing’ can be very hard. Our modern world upholds doing as the greatest for example gold medal winning olympians. There is nothing wrong with striving to be the best but sometimes we miss out on the importance of just not doing, stopping and listening to our mind, body and spirit.The effort and challenge for me is to take time to just be with myself and strive to allow all the thoughts that go through my mind to just come and go.
    Thank you Ciaran for this blog. My first thoughts were – “How interesting can a blog be about not using a car?” But as you have shown, it links into so many deeper issues that society and each individual needs to grapple with.

    • Thank you Grant, that means a lot to us. I agree absolutely that one of the hardest things people face is slowing down and just ‘being’. I hope to draw on our work with mindfulness a bit more as we go along – hope you stick around for the ‘ride’!

  3. Pingback: How do I know I’m Flourishing? « Tyranny of Convenience

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