Sociologist Robert Bellah says that religion may be like play. The rules don’t make sense in the abstract, but they can create meaning and better people if you just play along. I’ve been in enough religious debates to conclude that God is not in the details. It’s like having an extended argument about how logical an LBW is and claiming that this refutes the game of cricket. But it doesn’t. These somewhat abstract rule based systems can lead to higher level awesomeness, but viewed in isolation, the rules may not make much sense. Like Java.
Archive for the 'ideas' Category
People say speak truth to power. I don’t think that really works. Just speak truth to each other and take power. People ask the President or government for this and that, without realizing that they actually have precious little personal control. It’s not like they’re going to turn around and say, ‘Hey, I’m an asshole’. These guys may have nicer cars than you or I, but they are still bound by even more societal constraints. Attacking them is interesting but almost pointless. It’s more useful to pull on the strings that bind them.
I’ve been following Mike Duncan’s History Of Rome podcasts. They are awesome and I like them cause I can do repetitive stuff at work and still listen. I’m at around 140 BC. What’s interesting is that the roots of collapse seem to have set in. And it began with great success.
Why do civilizations collapse? I would posit that they, like humans, simply get old and die. Basically, they get cancer. 1/3 of women and 1/2 of men get cancer as they age. Broadly, cancer is when a group of cells exhibits uncontrolled growth, gradually killing the host. One theory of why civilizations collapse is much the same. A group of people begins growing their wealth out of control, eventually outgrowing the resources that the society has. That society eventually collapses.
In short, because we’re connected. Because we live together. Because we need each others help. There are a few studies detailing why we’re altruistic, but few explaining how. To that I would posit, because we have an identity and a face. For example, we went to this alley bar in Mount Lavinia that actually serves a decent lunch. On the way out our car was boxed in by two guys. This would often be a problem, but this time it wasn’t. People were so nice that it left me confused. Why?
In an amazing event, 25,000 Sri Lankans (and others) have walked from the absolute south of the island to the absolute north, raising money for a cancer hospital in Jaffna. When they passed through Colombo, we bought a brick with the kids name on it. Yesterday, Mahela Jayawardena laid the foundation stone. Today I’m very proud of all of them, and proud to be Sri Lankan.
Sri Lanka in particular is full of interest groups claiming to represent the poor or certain races or groups. I don’t think it works. Representative democracy barely functions, and representation based on good intentions is even worse. At the end of the day, the system only works if people are able to represent themselves. That’s an incremental, often generational process. You need to get a job, send your kids to school and hope that they have a better life. Nobody can do that for you.
I’m 28 and I grew up with the war. Now the war is over and I’d like to live. I think this is possible within a multi-ethnic Sri Lanka with equal rights for all. And I don’t think we need to wait for the government, we can simply define what Sri Lankan is ourselves. That’s what I said on the Jazeera, echoing what Kumar Sangakkara said in his speech. You know, I’m Sri Lankan. That there we can find some common ground. I think that this simple idea has some legs. People are changing, compromising and – in a word – beginning to reconcile.
Innovation is adaptation. It’s evolution. Business is not that different from life in the jungle. You have to survive, thrive, and that means you have to adapt. That’s all innovation really is. Artificial adaptation. To understand innovation you don’t need to think like an MBA, you need to think like a monkey.