Philosophy > Uniforms


Published: October 12, 2010

The Socialists believe in two things which are absolutely different and perhaps even contradictory: freedom and organization. -Elie Halevy.

I have had this conversation three times in the last week. First it was with a bartender who was on the freedom side of life. I was talking about how much I love my part of town precisely because it embraces freedom and eschews organization. I live in a gentrified ghetto. It is nice is not the organized planned community that some folks prefer. The bartender I was talking to was a writer who hated doing the same thing over and over, but loved the creative process involved in writing a book.

The next night I was talking to the owner of that same bar. He loves to do woodwork and was working on a project to upgrade the bar he owns. His project involved taking scraps of wood and creating a new look for his bar. He went into great detail about the joy of figuring out the plans for his upgrade. He was assembling the project out of wood scraps in his garage. He loved the challenge of figuring out the solution, but once he puzzled it out and assembled the first piece...he quickly became bored with the production aspect of the project.

After that I was in a course development meeting at work where the head guy was making the uniformity argument. "We should all be teaching the course the course using the same material and..."

As you can imagine, I was nodding off at this point.

At some level I think it is great that there are people who can give the exact same lecture the exact same way 100 times and then stand up and do it for the 101st time. There are loads of students who haven't heard the carefully crafted lecture before. Maybe they can benefit from the ultra refined product.

I, however, am not those people.

I'm the guy who hears a comment in class and starts to run with that. Once I start running, I'll run all night. I've stayed up from 4 pm one day to 8 am the next day revising a lecture based on one statement. Only to find that the revision bombed.

And I don't mind that in the least. Because to me that is where the battle lies. There are those people who do X a million times. And there is me who does X, then X prime, then X prime prime. I never repeat the same process, no matter how good it is. I always think I can make it better. That there is no best, only the best I can do today. If I can't do better tomorrow, why get out of bed? Do you feel me?

But I know there are other people who survived evolution. They are not bead people. There are people who believe that grass should be mowed in straight lines. Hair should be parted. Walls should be one color.

I don't own grass. What hair I have goes it's own way. The walls on my house have a mix of whatever paints are in my garage and the latest graffiti that a local artist has deigned apropos.

I love the idea that life is a total mess. That I'll wake up tomorrow and some stranger has tagged the stucco on my wall. That one of my colleagues might say something that will kill a whole night's sleep. That maybe some how, out of this mess, we'll find something that makes this world a better place.

I know it's dodgy and that it will fail as much or more than it will succeed. And that is exactly what I'm writing about.

Sure some people need the comfort of uniformity. Organization. Freshly mowed grass and neatly trimmed hedges and walls that are all one color. For them, that organization is peace, love and all that is good in the world.

But for me...I love my freedom.

Any Comments?


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