By virtue of their outgoing persistence extroverts have long ruled the world, but perhaps it is time to follow the wisdom of the introvert’s aversion to meddling.
What are you going to do about it?
What should we do about it?
What can they do about?
These are the questions that we hear in relation to problems that we encounter in day to day life. The central tenet of our belief system is that ‘doing’ is the only meaningful activity. We assume all problems just need a fresh coat of action in order to stop being problems, ignoring the fact that under all those layers of action past the fundamental problems still remain. No matter how many bandages you put on an error, the infection can spread inside of it.
Even more insidious is what it is that is usually meant by ‘doing’. In our state-based social/economic/political systems ‘doing’ often means employing the force of the state on behalf of majority interests. ‘Doing’ often means creating new systems to impose your will on others, or reforming old systems to do the same. More often than not ‘doing’ is an intrusion on individuals and minority factions, that when not upheld by direct force often entails inescapable coercion. I am not trying to sound like some natural law/rights proponent here, but the logic of political action is inevitable, despite your ideology or mine.
The old lady who eventually died of horse-swallowing, after a series of escalations following a fly ingestion incident, was stuck in a feedback loop of ‘doing’. A rational person would have stopped swallowing things after the fly (not doing) and attempted to cough or vomit up the fly (undoing) if it posed a real threat, which it did not. It was only the act of repeated doings that escalated the situation to the fatal level of whole horse consumption.
Undoing may be argued to be a form of doing, which is right in some sense, but false in others. When I speak of undoing I mean deconstructing, not to make room for building anew, but just to be rid of a thing that was not working. Too often our undoing is just part of the process of doing something else in its place. So I would suggest that what differentiates true undoing from doing is that it is followed by not-doing.
Doing nothing. Leaving things be. Minding your own business. These are things humans are not very good at. When we talk about ‘doing’ we do so with the urgency of belief that we must have a plan of action at all times. Yet we compulsively ‘do’. We need never worry about that. It needs no protection or defense. We should concentrate instead on where we fail, which is undoing and not-doing. These are the skills we should be developing as individuals and as a species.
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