Thanks to technology, (relative) peace and historic levels of prosperity, we’ve turned our culture into a crystal palace, a gleaming object that needs to be perfected and polished more than it is appreciated.
We waste our days whining over slight imperfections (the nuts in first class aren’t warm, the Gautrain was not cool enough, the injection leaves a bump on our arm for two hours) instead of seeing the modern miracles all around us. That last thing that went horribly wrong, that spoiled everything, that led to a spat or tears or sadness, if you put it on a t-shirt and wore it in public, how would it feel? You hear these snobs at the golf course complaining “My iPhone died in the middle of the 8th inning because my wife didn’t charge it and I couldn’t take a picture of that perfect goal at the hospitality suites at the stadium!”
Worse, we’re losing our ability to engage with situations that might not have outcomes shiny enough or risk-free enough to belong in the palace. By insulating ourselves from perceived risk, from people and places that might not like us, appreciate us or guarantee us a smooth ride, we spend our day in a prison we’ve built for ourself.
Shiny, but hardly nurturing.
So, we ban things from airplanes not because they are dangerous, but because they frighten us. We avoid writing, or sales calls, or inventing or performing or engaging not because we can’t do it, but because it might not work. We don’t interact with strange ideas, new dishes or people who share different values because those interactions might make us uncomfortable…
Funny looking tomatoes, people who don’t look like us, interactions where we might not get a yes…
Growth is messy and dangerous. Life is messy and dangerous. When we insist on a guarantee, an ever-increasing standard in everything we measure and a Hollywood blockbuster ending, we get none of those.