Friday, August 24, 2012

The trees in the forest

How are you this Friday? I've been busy the past several days (and nights) helping a friend put the finishing touches on a book he's publishing. The process is not necessarily hard, but it's long and somewhat complicated. Well, not really complicated, but ... lots of steps to do in order. No step is particularly hard, but they have to be done in order and they all have to be done. Maybe it is complicated.

Things often are when you look at a whole project rather than breaking it into steps. Looking at the forest can keep you from seeing the trees. And vice versa, of course.

Many people claim that seeing the forest is more important than seeing the trees, forgetting that the trees as a group are the forest. You can lose one tree, obviously, and still have a forest, but how many can you lose before the forest is no more? One tree is not a forest. Nor is two or three or even 10. How about a 100? 300? 1,000? There's not a true definition of a forest. We simply know one when we see one.

That brings us back to the importance of a single tree. If you lose enough single trees, then you don't have a forest anymore. So every tree has to be important because, without it, the forest is diminished. Always beware someone who is willing to sacrifice a tree or two for the sake of the forest. They're ignoring what a forest truly is.

And no, I'm not really talking about trees. I'm actually talking about government and how politicians sacrifice individuals -- us -- to benefit the greater public, even though each of us actually is a part of that "public."

Politicians talk about making the hard decisions, but have you ever noticed their hard decisions never impact them? They hold themselves apart. They're not part of the public. They're the overseers, the rulers -- the sacrificers, never the sacrifices.

Make no mistake about this: If you're a Republican or Democrat or any other political party, you're supporting people who will claim -- with pride -- that they can make the hard decisions for us, that they know better than the individual, that sacrifice is necessary for the greater good.

They're protecting the forest, you see? The forest is more important than a tree, right? And it's only after a forest is clear cut that people realize something vital has been lost. Fortunately, at that point, our overseers will exhort the values of an empty land. We are lucky.

Aren't we?

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Jean said...

Well, I'm convinced. Empty land is the salvation of us all.

Oh. That wasn't your point? Shucks.

You are, of course, right. The good of the Many outweigh the good of the One, but not always. Sometimes, the good of the One outweighs the good of the Many, and the key to to know when those times are appropriate.

Stephen B. Bagley said...

I think the balance has shifted to far toward the Many, not the one. Of course, sometimes that one is a dangerous crazy, but sometimes that one is simply choosing to live differently.