Jerome Michael McLaughlin
If I Were King...
We have all experienced the frustration of witnessing a world apparently run by morons and madmen. We see evidence of their ineptness and cold disregard every day. Our leaders can’t seem to get anything done or fix any of the persistent problems that exist all around us.
And, if you’re like me, from time to time you let yourself leap into that tired thought experiment:
If I were in charge, things would be better.
If I were king,…life would be easier, less chaotic, more positive, more productive. Things would finally get done around here. Difficult matters would be dealt with fairly and swiftly. People would be kind to one another and treat each other with respect. Poverty, crime, pollution, corruption, and all the ills that plague humanity would finally come to an end. There are solutions to every problem. We just need to have someone like me to address them. Someone wise, fair, honest, thoughtful, and caring. Yes, the world would indeed be better off if I was running the show.
And while this might feel good in the moment, it’s all pure fantasy.
Why? Why do we daydream about assuming some regal authority to set about fixing the problems of the world? Why do we think we have the solutions that will work? Because we all possess the innate desire to make things better. We want things to work. We are doers, problem solvers. In a word, we “care”. We see people suffering and we want that suffering to end. We want everyone to enjoy this beautiful life and live each day in peace, comfort, and safety.
But we need to stop and ask ourselves, how do these problems begin? What’s the real reason such problems exist in the first place and why do they continue to persist? Why does the world seem to have so many issues that never get resolved while solutions appear glaringly obvious, at least to us?
The hard truth is, we can’t solve the problems because the problems can’t be solved. There are no answers to the myriad problems we face. It isn’t that the correct approach is available yet hasn’t been properly applied. It isn’t that our leaders are inept or evil. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. The fact is, no final solution exists. Human problems are here to stay. Humans create problems in order to solve them.
I once had a boss who relished taking something simple and making it infinitely complex. I remember saying to him, “I like things to work. But you like things to work on.” By making the simple complex he manipulated the system in which we operated by making tiny adjustments to a variety of inputs then was held as the hero when he swooped in to “solve” the issue he had created in the first place.
The world may change, but we remain the same. Or do we? And by “we” I don’t mean all of us, I mean YOU. But most importantly, I mean ME. If I want the world to change and the problems of the world to be addressed, I must begin within – one tiny gesture, one simple adjustment to my mind at a time.
No permanent change is ever initiated through external influence or collective problem-solving. No system, no government, no institution, no regulation, no law, leader, or legislation can solve what we ourselves ignore. Long-lasting change begins when we solve the problems first within.
Yet any positive change no matter how small, if multiplied exponentially will ultimately result in the permanent change we seek. It may take time, but this effort is worth every second. It all begins with me.