fooling, foolishness and current affairs

Listening to the news these last months, trying to attend to content and dismiss the hyperbole, brought the words in the title to mind.

I found a few interesting comments and quotations on the general concept of fools and foolishness, one of my favorites is:

“The point of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.” Peter Ustinov is credited with that one. True he’s not a renowned philosopher, but it does say something about our ability as a people to overlook things, facts of the present and immediate past, and hope for a better future.

Ustinov puts this under the term “foolish” to let us know that in reality, from his perspective, things are what they are, they will be what they will be, and our beliefs, or dreams, or wishes can’t change them. Its some kind of fatalistic approach to life.

That little voice inside me tells me he might be right, but it doesn’t stop me from working to make the future somehow better, better for me, better for people I don’t know, better for my friends and people I love.

Herman Hertzberger told me once that as an architect, he cannot save the world, that he sees himself more like a dentist, just relieving a little discomfort here and there.

Maybe that’s all that’s needed.

Think about what the impact of 309 million people doing little things to make the future better. Individually, it would be easy to say that picking up the water bottle in the parking lot doesn’t make a difference and that only a fool would believe it to be otherwise.

But think about it.

390 MILLION people. If every day we did just one thing, in a year there would be almost one billion things done each year. Think about 390 million people going to the gulf, dipping out their one bucket of oil, staying one night in a local motel, eating three meals. The impact of that would make the 20 billion dollar escrow fee tiny.

I believe the future is in a decentralized approach to problem solving. It seems like just a few generations ago, all of America was “off-grid” and “off-pipe.” Every major building in a city made its own electricity, heat, and propulsion for its elevators. Every family farm harvested water and stored it for the dry spells, made electricity, grew food. The rural countryside is filled with remnants of a sustainable society…it worked for a few hundred years…until we centralized the economy.

I’m off track yet again. I’ll close with this quote by Epictetus. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

Kind of takes one back to Forrest Gump.

Be safe, be good to each other, and when they get that thing capped in the gulf, take a trip, scoop your bucket, and lets go full speed into a foolish future.

…and pick up that water bottle!

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