Green Spot: Pushing A Rope

Well recently at work I came across an old concept when someone mention that good old phrase: you can’t push a rope.  Now originally this phrase came into my life via my physics class when solving force problems with pulleys.  Basically the intent of the phrase is don’t get so tried up in solving the problem that you forget the practical consideration: You can’t push a rope to solve the problem.  It just doesn’t work.

So I feel that in general we have all been conditioned to something similar.  When faced with any problem most people’s first reaction is to shovel money at it.  Car making an odd noise, take it to the shop.  Something broke in the house, buy a new one.  Health care won’t function, give it more money.  Our automatic reaction is to use money to makes things better.  Yet shoveling money at the problem often ignores the fact you are in fact pushing a rope.

For example, your car is making a funny noise because there is too much snow in the wheel wells, knock it out.  Instead of buying something new for the house, try living with out and see if you even miss it.  Instead of getting more health care staff to deal with people getting older, do more preventative work to keep them healthy instead of treating them after they are sick.  We ignore the practical solution because we are so focused on fixing something the wrong way.

Now this is actually a really wide spread problem.  People are stuck in their patterns and are refusing to change.  For example, ignore global warming for a second.  Now isn’t the fact top soil depths are dropping in most of the world, species are disappearing at a rapid rate and the fact in general people are no more happy for all our stuff indicate to you that something is wrong with the way we live.  We are collectively pushing the rope.  We work hard to get money, then buy stuff we really not sure we need and spend large sums of money on entertainment to make us forget about our lives.  Pardon me, why on earth should we want to forget about our lives?  Oh right, they have no meaning for us.

So the solution is obvious isn’t it.  Make meaning in your life.  Ignore the stuff and the money for a second and ask your self how you want to live your life.  Be silly here, it is ok.  If you want to be a better cook, find someone to teach you or take a class.  Got no time because of the kids? Get a babysitter or trade sitting with someone you know.  Want to be a writer, then pick up a pen.  Want to be published on a blog, send me post. (I have yet to reject a single guest post.) Stop making excuses for not having meaning and start making meaning in your life.

Why is this so important? Because once we are all living our lives with meaning and intent the rest of the stuff we don’t need won’t get bought.  The mindless entertainment will be used less.  The amount of resources use and garbage creation will drop off.  They don’t make things that don’t sell you know (at least not for long).  So find meaning and happiness in your life.  Save yourself and the planet will follow.

Now isn’t that a good piece of news.  The world really wants you to be happier.  So what brings meaning to your life?

One thought on “Green Spot: Pushing A Rope”

  1. This is a very insightful comment. As an engineer I find myself telling more and more of my colleagues when solving a problem, it’s prudent to start from the basics – F=ma and you can’t push a rope. Everything can be solved from there. The fact that so many of my fellow engineers have forgotten that speaks to a larger problem plaguing society today as you’ve pointed out.

    I speak frequently with a co-worker about his youth in the former Yugoslavia. He speaks of it fondly, with the perfect balance between socialism and capitalism – until it was collapsed by the west. Here (North America) we’re continually atomized as individuals and we have no sense of the collective, no sense of nationality. We don’t talk to our neighbours, we don’t meet up after work for a beer, we shuffle our kids around to keep impossible schedules. As long as I’m ok, I’m ok. But for me to be ok, we all need to be ok. We need to relax, get back to basics and rediscover a lot of things we’ve lost by throwing money and time at things that really aren’t that important. I bet we all have a handy neighbour that could fix the car for a beer and a good conversation – but we have to go talk to him (or her) first.

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