Monday, April 9, 2018

Gravity Problems

I recently read the book Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The book says that everything that was designed was a problem that was solved. It’s a different way of looking at problems—not just obstacles that prevent you from doing what you want, but opportunities to design solutions. The book is about doing that for your life. Worth reading.

But there’s a section near the beginning that talks about some problems that are not worth solving:
Newton and the apple
image from here

These are all gravity problems—meaning they are not real problems. Why? Because in life design, if it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. Let’s repeat that. If it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. It’s a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life. It may be a drag (so to speak), but, like gravity, it’s not a problem that can be solved.
Here’s a little tidbit that is going to save you a lot of time—months, years, decades even. It has to do with reality. People fight reality. They fight it tooth and nail, with everything they’ve got. And anytime you are arguing or fighting with reality, reality will win. You can’t outsmart it. You can’t trick it. You can’t bend it to your will. Not now. Not ever (p. 9).
How do you know when we’re looking at a gravity problem? Or, even more specifically, how do you know when it’s a tilting at windmills sort of worthless effort, even though technically it isn’t totally unactionable. Here’s how they say it:

We recognize that there are two variations of gravity problems—totally inactionable ones (such as gravity itself) and functionally unactionable ones (such as the average income of a full-time poet) (p. 10).
About that second one, the authors say,

To change the median income of poets, you’d somehow have to alter the market for poetry and get people to buy more poetry or pay more for it. Well, you could try for that. You could write letters to the editor in praise of poetry. You could knock on doors to get people out to the poetry night at your local coffeehouse. This one is a long shot. Even though you can work on this “problem” in a way that wasn’t possible with gravity, we’d recommend that you accept it as an inactionable situation. If you do that, then your attention is freed to start designing other solutions to other problems (p. 11).
It’s about accepting reality. Some things aren’t problems with the world that need fixing; they’re just “a situation, a circumstances, a fact of life.”

Mr. Spherical Model used to say, “When I make a world, I’ll make the day 25 hours long but tell people there are only 24, so there will always be enough leeway to get everything done.” OK. We laughed. But that’s a gravity problem. You don’t get more time than there is; all you can do is figure out how to better use the time you’ve got.

I’ve been looking at some reality—and the fights against it—since reading about gravity problems. It explains what’s happening. It doesn’t fully explain why. But maybe if we see these things as gravity fights, we can avoid being brought into someone else’s waste of effort.

Here’s an example. Your sex is something you’re born with. It is expressed in the DNA in every cell of your body. It is expressed in your body’s shape, appearance, and function. And in many ways it is expressed in preferences and behaviors. While preferences and behaviors are somewhat subjective and individual, that does not negate all the rest of the evidence. We’re a binary species, like so many other complex species: male or female.

People who don’t want to be what they are have a gravity problem. They and their sympathizers are putting in a great deal of energy and time, and sometimes sacrificing actual body parts, to insist that reality is what they say it is. They are trying to change the world rather than change their own minds.

If they were to convince the whole world, they still would not change the reality they are fighting. It’s a gravity problem.

They harm themselves. They harm civilization. We would all be better off if the people fighting this gravity problem would just stop it.

Here’s another one. The way reproduction works in humans is that when a male and female engage in sexual intercourse, with the right timing, an egg is fertilized, and a new human begins to grow within the female.

It doesn’t matter whether you think that’s fair. It doesn’t matter whether you think engaging in sex shouldn’t lead to pregnancy—or, as former president Obama said, “be punished with a baby”—it is the way the species propagates. We're designed that way.

Within marriage, pregnancy is something to be celebrated. What a miracle! A new life, a new person, is joining the family! That’s such a profound good that for humans (as it is for most species) its goodness should be self-evident. But it’s also profoundly important, since human lives are involved, so it isn’t something to mess around with if you’re not in a position to care for that new person. So, the simple solution to avoid starting that new life when you’re not married and prepared is to not have sexual intercourse until you’re married.

Birth control pills are an attempt to overrule reality. And I’m not going to argue that they’re always wrong. There are plenty of times when married couples aren’t ready to bring another person into the family. There might be temporary financial or health concerns. It’s a private decision. Even so, it’s a private decision that wasn’t available to humans until historical yesterday. And it isn’t fail proof. But when the unplanned pregnancy happens within a marriage, the couple readjusts and gets ready, even if they’re going to face some challenges.

When unplanned pregnancies happen to unmarried people, that’s the result of behaving as if married. It’s preventable. And the way people have prevented it for thousands of years is to wait until marriage to have sex.

A horrendous, savage response to the reality that sex leads to pregnancy is abortion. It doesn’t solve a “problem”; it ends a life. The only grounds on which we can even have a conversation about this is under the rare circumstances in which the woman did not consent (rape) and danger to the life of the mother (which usually endangers the life of the baby as well).

Abortion to nullify the effects of natural human reproduction is an example of fighting a gravity problem. People are harmed in the process. Every time. The baby. The mother. The father. The doctor. The nurses. Civilization.

We would all be better off if the people fighting this gravity problem would just stop it.
Gravity problems aren’t just a problem of youthful lack of wisdom. But things are made worse when young people, planning out their futures, are encouraged to go out and “change the world,” which all too often means throwing their lives at a gravity problem.

If it were only affecting them, we’d all shrug our shoulders and move on. But practically every issue considered “politically correct” is an attempt to impose a “solution” on a gravity problem. And suggesting someone isn’t politically correct isn’t enough, so then the “solution” gets imposed with, not just social pressure, but threats to life and livelihood.

I'm not sure that big government control types and big social experimenters are the only ones imposing world control instead of self-control. But it’s worth noting, since so many of their issues go against truth and reality. 

I don’t know whether they’re aware of it or not. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, let’s keep sharing truth and reality with them. And encourage them to stop breaking themselves—and us with them—against the law of gravity.

Bernoulli Effect
image from here

Imagine the energy being put into fighting gravity problems instead being put into solving real problems. That’s what real world changers do. Like the Wright Brothers and others who invented and improved flight. They didn’t stop gravity, or change it. They found another law—the Bernoulli effect—that they could use to their benefit, and ours.

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