Wackos… and it’s all about assumptions

December 24, 2008

Political Correctness is out of control. On the way to work we usually hear the Family Health broadcast. Dr. Harold C. Thompson isn’t a bad guy, but sometimes I want to grit my teeth and scream, like today when Dr. Thompson assured us all that Santa and his elves have increased productivity due to adopting a smoke-free workplace and a healthy diet up at the North Pole. Dr. Thompson assumes this will be an uplifting and motivating message, but I am filled with disgust.

Now, I *am* a Grinch when it comes to Christmas, but every time we turn around someone is trying to get us all to redefine something we value and that is just fine the way it is. I don’t want Santa to be skinny, I’m OK with him losing the pipe, but lets get real here. Skinny Santa Clause means that thousands of Santa Impersonators will be out of a job. You can always put a pillow in your suit to pad out a bit, but if Santa Clause is skinny he’ll also have bony, uncomfortable knees for kids to sit on. Just read “The Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett to explore this concept.

What has this to do with New Media and NASA? Not a bloody thing, sorry. Well, maybe.

It was Radio, but you can listen to it on the internet too if you follow that link. OK, so that makes it New Media. Does not NORAD track Santa every year? So Santa is space related, OK, we are on to something. It is this kind of tenuous logic that has actually gotten mankind in trouble over the millennia, and it still happens today. Things everyone takes for granted, such as the manifestly incorrect diet advice given to us over the last 40 years, are untouchable. But Santa Clause, whose very reality is suspect by most after age 6, is fair game for re-definition. Keep doing what doesn’t work, says your doctor! You’re not trying hard enough! But when it comes to an article of faith like Santa Clause, well the story is constantly changing.

What this nation needs is the return of classes in logic to the average classroom. Awareness, not the kind that is promoted in various weeks throughout the year for political and social occasions, but situational awareness, more importantly of when that world fails to match up with what we have been taught to expect. When that happens we are supposed to say “wait a minute, that’s not right,” and work out what’s happened. Re-visit and throw out bad assumptions, only when that happens will real innovation happen and creativity be unleashed.

In Shotokan we say “shoshi ni kaeru,” loosely “back to the beginning” or “beginner’s mind.” We must set aside our perceptions that we “know,” and only then can we learn. By true application of shoshi ni kaeru, even an advanced student can realize a basic problem that has persisted for years remains uncorrected, and realize that when the sensei is shouting “draw hand!” the sensei is shouting at him. We are to accept corrections in class as being directed at us even if we know they are not.

Is there a way for New Media to get this concept (not as written above, of course) out into the world? Can we find ways to foster the realization among people everywhere that a re-evaluation of all their assumptions would be a Good Thing (TM)? Because once certain bad assumptions are gone the remaining circumstances can be viewed with occasionally shocking clarity.

So, let’s keep Santa fat. The dubious nature of his reality means we should try ever harder to keep him eternal. But for the rest of it, lets go kick some assumptions out there!


4 Responses to “Wackos… and it’s all about assumptions”

  1. mpfinneran Says:

    Back in the day, Santa rode a goat, and his helpers carried rods and switches to whack kids who hadn’t been good. That’s the Santa I knew and loved when growing up in the early 1800s.

  2. Melissa (Dorsey) McDowell Says:

    Excellent. It must have been one of Thor’s goats if it could carry a full grown saint! Have you heard the song “Brendan’s Voyage?” It’s great!

    It’s about Saint Brendan the Navigator, and his talking albatross.

  3. mpfinneran Says:

    It was a big ole goat, for sure. You mean St. Brendan of Clonfert? We went to high school together!

  4. Melissa (Dorsey) McDowell Says:

    Not if you still want to be growing up in the early 1800s. St. Brendan is associated with Kerry.

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