Sunday’s Wisdom #351: Solve the Problem

“If we wait around for the powers that be to solve the problem, we’re all doomed.”
– Stricken, Monster Hunter Bloodlines
Monster Hunters
series, by Larry Correia

Stricken is one of those characters who everyone loves to hate and hates to love. He is absolutely evil, has done incredibly evil things, and he’s done a lot of damage to a lot of good, innocent people. Along the way, however, he has also been annoyingly useful, even essential, and he continually insists that he is on the side of the angels, with every vile thing he’s done being to save humanity’s existence and freedom. In his view, he is simply doing what is necessary, what the straight-laced “good guys” are incapable of doing, and what the powers that be – referring to political leaders with spines as stiff as a boiled spaghetti noodle – will never do. At least, not in time.

There is a good deal of truth and validity to what he says, of course. All good villains and antiheroes have a bit of that. He’s right about having to do some despicable things, things that would leave any good man unable to sleep at night, in order to get things done and protect what is good in this very imperfect world. He’s wrong about what sort of evil things need to be done, or tolerated, and especially the manner of foul creatures which one can really work with. He’s also right about how the powers that be will never manage to save the world, though he’s wrong about simply casting off all form of accountability to the government and the people he’s supposedly protecting. Without such accountability, we would quickly become lost, confused, and corrupted. We need a higher authority, separate and objective, to hold us to an honorable account. That is part of the role of government.

What government is good for, it’s really good for. It just happens that solving all of our problems is not what it’s good for.

When things go wrong, as they often do, this creates problems. Problems need solutions, and solutions need to be practical or they aren’t actually solutions at all. Practicality requires an understanding of the problem and real-world consequences of possible solutions. And in that regard, it may be easier to see an entire city from on high, but the grease and stains, the dirt and blood, can only be seen up close and personal, at ground level.

When a problem is brought to the government, to the ruling powers that be, to solve, the best case – I repeat: the best case – scenario has dozens and dozens of people talking for an eternity about how best to solve a problem they don’t really know anything about. It takes forever, which is far too long, and by the time to enact a solution, it’s usually a perfectly wrong and counter-productive solution. And that’s without the inevitable political posing and scheming for more money and power.

I work indirectly for a huge company. This company wanted to make their bathrooms more handicap accessible. They had someone install the machinery to make a few doors that one can open with the push of a button. This cost money, as does the upkeep of this machinery. That upkeep became more expensive when people opened the doors and put door-stopping wedges under the door, to hold them open, because the machinery made the doors more taxing to push open, and said machinery was apparently fairly delicate. So they removed all the door stops from all the restrooms everywhere, whether they had this machinery or not. And thus, everyone was inconvenienced for very little benefit.

All of this, when they could have just done what theaters do: remove the doors entirely. One-time fee, no upkeep, no inconvenience to everyone, and the restrooms are accessible.

What happens when a disaster hits? Does everyone wait around until the powers that be tell them what to do? Or do they get busy? Police officers on the scene, firemen running into burning buildings, paramedics administering first aid… ah, but it goes even further, doesn’t it? A madman with a gun begins a rampage, and the police can’t arrive in time, but one man in the crown shoots back, and the crisis is over before it claims many lives. A house starts to burn, and parents run to get their children out, or neighbors, or sometimes even house pets (I recall the story of the family dog that got the kids out). Someone is choking in a restaurant, and another customer performs the Heimlich. And all this while huge amounts of relief aid for natural disasters gets tied up in paperwork, while small armies of volunteers are already cleaning up the mess.

There are things which only the government’s resources and authority can accomplish, but a far-distant collection of bureaucrats and politicians is no substitute for boots on the ground.

Even the powers of Heaven are not going to come down and simply solve all of our problems. Why should we expect such from far more fallible mortals who seem more preoccupied with ruling the world than with ruling it well?

There is an abundance of problems in our world today, which ought to be proof enough that our rulers can’t and won’t solve them. We have to solve them ourselves, together. Us, the people on the ground. We have to work together, think together, and create solutions together.

Because our problems will not be solved by waiting around for someone else to solve them.

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