Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Resolution

It’s that time of year again.  The time to throw out the old and bring in the new.  To mix hope and alcohol, to produce firm resolve.  The time we allow ourselves to look honestly in the mirror and admit our faults because tomorrow will be different - the start of something new.  On New Year’s Eve we reflect on the past twelve months we feel the twinge of regret that we could do things better. 

New Years’ Resolutions point to the fact we believe we can change the course of our lives.  Be it lose weight, get a new job, be a better husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister.  We believe we have the capacity to change things in other lives.  If we are merely aimlessly drifting through life, it makes no sense to try to change our course.  In other words, the course of our life is not determined beyond our ability to change things. 

We implicitly believe our lives have meaning and purpose.  Therefore, it is important to take time to make sure we are making the best possible use of our time, of our lives.  So before midnight on New Year’s Eve we decide to do better so we can be in a better position to fulfill our purpose.

Either we are blessed or cursed with the quest for meaning.  If there is a purpose to be strived for, lives spent chasing this quest are noble.  If there is no ultimate purpose or reason to the life we find ourselves living, the search for meaning is at best quixotic.

This New Year’s Eve I want to wish you all a happy new year and one in which you can reflect on this quest for meaning.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Word Is My Bond

The basis of all human transactions is trust.  Trust that others will keep their word and do what they said they will do.  Let me rephrase: in a well-functioning society the basis of human transaction is trust that other people will keep their word.

In a society where some use power or force to get what they want, or others deceit, there will be considerable costs to us as individuals, and to society as a whole. 

You pay the plumber to fix the sink trusting the leak will be fixed; you take a job trusting you will be paid; you sign a business contract trusting your partners will hold up their sides of the bargain; you get married trusting your spouse will be faithful.

There are ways to mitigate the costs of the inability to trust others.  If we are working for someone else we can ask to be paid up front (although others may be reluctant to pay up front afraid there will be no incentive to finish the project).  We can bring those who fail to live up to their promises to an independent body for dispute resolution.  Couples can enter into pre-nuptial agreements. But, of course, these mitigations cost time and money.

It is extremely difficult to enter into any relationship where parties do not feel bound by their word.  This is true whether we are talking about romantic or business relationships.  At first, everyone makes wonderful promises and aspires to great things.  But if everyone decides to do what best suits him or herself when things don’t go as planned, the venture will not be long for this world.

For example, if two parties think they have come to a business agreement only to arrive at the next meeting to find that the terms they thought were set in stone are being renegotiated, the deal will not get done.  The same is true for romantic relationships.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Room - A Christmas Reflection

There was no room
Four beds - the modern need for privacy
Young mother birthing for all to see
Sprinklers tend perfect lawn
Cow waste on the ground
Two-car garage, two and a half baths
Nowhere to lay the baby down
Finished basement - wet bar

We expand and shrink all scope for the greater
The bigger we build - the more empty space.