eThoughts : March 1, 2012: Goodness of Fit

Okay, freedom seems to interact with determinism and vice versa. There are consequences in any case. Acceptance of the consequences, despite how much work we might face because of those consequences, seems important for our overall health. Besides, if we fully understand there are consequences as a result of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we might be just a tad more sober when we do stuff.

So, now what’s the best direction to properly employ the knowledge of antecedents, behaviors, consequences, and acceptance? I suggest searching for goodness of fit—think the right key for the right lock. However, the problem with the lock and key analogy is we’re talking a dynamic rather than a static state of affairs, which makes the goodness-of-fit effort rather challenging. Nonetheless, challenging or not, practicing goodness-of-fit strategies is likely to be energy efficient and anytime we can figure out how to do things better with less energy involved, we’ve just created a big space to play around in. Nice.

As usual, what follows has been done by many others in many venues. Nonetheless, I shall boldly go forth where others have boldly gone before.

Fitting in With Ourselves

Perhaps we all have to be engineers—that realistic frame of mind that can recognize and create structures that will be functional, aesthetic, and durable. Problem: human learning is not very aesthetic, even if the outcome of that learning can be. Oh we can be amused and forgiving with babies as they learn, but we’re babies for a nanosecond and then wham, we’re expected to be a bit more adult-like. And being adult-like means we don’t let ‘em see us learn, we only let ‘em see that we have. However, we have public schools—pretty much a big ol’ aquarium with the learners on the inside of the glass container and the learned on the outside watching. Then, after enduring years of being exposed while learning how not to be exposed, we graduate into the work world where we can put all of that not-being-exposed-around-others to work. To complicate matters, we pretty much run the institution of marriage in much the same way. Of course we will be found out whether it’s at school, at work, or in a marriage.

Solution? Being a fool with dignity. Since we can’t continually avoid being tripped up, we might as well accept being fools. I can’t figure out any rule that says we can’t have our dignity. That’s the first goodness-of-fit—give ourselves a break. Learning can be difficult, foolishness abounds in new learning, so we have to get over that road and its potholes.

Fitting in With Others

Okay, we’ve learned the goodness-of-fit technique of giving ourselves a break when we’re learning. That doesn’t mean acceptance or goodness of fit with others. We might be good with the cognitive/emotional equivalent of being a wounded animal in the pack, but “healthy” members of the pack (be aware of those who are in charge of defining “healthy” or “unhealthy”) often sense the opportunity to leverage the weakness of others. I mean, for some it seems so powerful to grind down another. And power seems rather healthy—an inoculation against being run over. At this point, it helps to remember charity. Besides simply eating another alive, we can own others by helping them. That perfunctory pat on the head and the “poor folk” look of the helpers can seem like a humanitarian enterprise, but often disguises a holier-than-thou attribute and a “thank God for lesser beings.”

Solution? Give up the idea of a remedial class of folks. “Say what,” you might well ask?! Isn’t remediation a cornerstone of learning—the very need to take corrective action. Maybe, but not if we create a remedial class of folks in the process. Look, I may need lots of correction, but I don’t need a scarlet “R” on my identification papers in the process. Look what happened with tests designed to discover what students hadn’t learned—they turned into “intelligence” tests. Oops! There are a lot of entanglements here, but the basic goodness-of-fit approach with each other is the commonality of us all: We’re all human beings even while we’re all aliens in the Galactic Bar. Why is freedom so powerful a concept even while it is so difficult to employ? Because we’ve decided freedom is earned, rather than granted. Let’s improve the goodness of fit with each other by granting each of us freedom and working from there—and I don’t mean to discover how to take away freedom, but how to keep it intact. For one thing, we’re going to have to give up a lot of record keeping, but I’m sure we’ll find other employment opportunities.

Fitting in with Our Environment

Okay, we’ve learned to be fools with dignity and we’ve learned to grant and to preserve the freedom of others. Goodness of fit is also about our stewardship with our earthly “spaceship.” What we seemed to have set-up is the earth is here for us—we’re the earth’s stewardship. Profoundly backwards. C’mon, we all know what happens to the goose that lays the golden egg when we get pushy. We all know what happens to our home when we defile it—and hiding our waste is not a fix. Neither is hiding our trespass.

Solution? We’re the stewards, not the earth. Or the heavens either. For that matter, neither are messiahs. Squeezing the life out of our environs is squeezing the life out of ourselves. Our goodness of fit with the environment is to realize we must actively care about our charge. Sure, properties of the earth can and do kill us, just as properties of the earth can and do nurture us. That doesn’t mean we need to render the earth submissive—which of course can only occur in our imaginations—it means we have to cultivate respect. Pillaging is not respectful. Taking and giving, in harmony with the rhythms of our planet is respectful.

So, here’s to being fools with dignity, to granting and preserving the freedom of human beings, and to being stewards of our earth. Nothing new and perhaps a bit of preaching to the choir in some respect. But sometimes we forget the basics of goodness of fit. And sometimes it’s like we didn’t think of it at all. In any case, it is not the bumper-sticker philosophy that will make goodness of fit work, it’s our actual work at employing goodness of fit in every venue and realizing that former fits, may not be present or future fits.

It certainly looks like we won’t run out of good work to do.

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