There’s this type of conversation or maybe it’s posturing within conversation, I’ve been in SO many conversations like this. They’re SO tiresome. I hope I never have to be in another one, though I expect that I’ll continue to be in them for the foreseeable future. That sucks. Anyway, in this conversation/posture a person – who usually thinks they are expressing a political perspective – says something which amounts to more or less the following:

“You know what sucks? A lot of stuff, maybe even everything. You know what’d be good? If stuff stopped sucking so much, or maybe even if everything that sucks stopped sucking. Someone should do something about that, someone should make everything stop sucking. It sucks that no one is stopping everything from sucking. People may try to make things stop sucking but things still suck. That sucks. The attempts to make stuff not suck? Those attempts suck. It’d be awesome if someone would so something awesome but right now everything basically sucks.”

Aside from my flippant tone, I think people who say this are basically right in the content of what they say but their speech as an action is wrong, in a different sense of right and wrong. It’s a correct or at least partially correct analysis expressed in a way which makes the ostensible goal of that analysis less likely rather than more likely.

Here’s another way to put this. Things are imperfect, including efforts to make stuff closer to perfect. We can always emphasize the distance between anything that happens and the perfection that it fails to achieve and we’ll be right every time, but I think that emphasis does not get us any closer to perfect. It keeps us as far away as we are now. A better way to proceed in my opinion is to acknowledge imperfection (and yes, be angry about it) but to emphasize the small steps that have occurred and to emphasize concrete details about further potential steps. And I don’t mean possible steps or “someone ought to, it’d be cool if…” steps, I mean clear plans that one actually intends to work on. We can either live within the perpetual gap between present and perfect or we can try to draw inspiration between the occasional small – and sadly often temporary – step from present to just a bit more perfect, in the hope that this will help us continue to take steps. The first is not political. But it is stupid and masochistic and self-indulgent.

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