10.22.2004

Sexes

I went to an all-boys school for high school so I was surrounded by testosterone for five years. Years that I must admit I do not regret as so many of my other friends do. I met some great people, friends that I still hold dear to this day. The experience without girls through adolesence was not unpleasant for me, though it did leave a lot of work for my wife to do when it came to educating me about cross-gender relationships.

In any case, I was immersed in males and male psychology and consequently understood them (us) fairly well. I find I can predict behaviour to a fairly high degree of accuracy after getting to know guys for a short time. The shorter a time it takes me to "figure out" a guy, the less interested I am in them. My daily exposure to the best and worst of them whittled the average time down quickly. Guys, I find, either remain the same juvenile jerks I hated in high school or they mature to the ones that I liked in high school. I place myself somewhere in the middle.

Girls, ladies, women; they remained a mystery. I hit college and was completely lost. Flirting was totally lost on me. It is only years after the fact that I can now recognize the few girls who did flirt with me as doing such. Totally clueless. I couldn't figure out their motivations, their hierarchy signals, their moods. The fairer sex might as well have been talking sanskrit for all I understood them.

Break: Yes, this is a gross and massive generalization but there are commonalities in either gender. There are as many simple women as there are simple men. I've met many of each. The complicated ones hold my attention in both genders.

After years of being with my wife, I slowly began to understand her but I knew I was just learning about one woman. There were many lessons to learn about women (and people, in general) from her but I had no delusions about being able to apply everything I learned about her to others. I would make a terrible date for any other woman; I have been shaped to the fit of one woman. I must mention that though I've got a good grasp of how my wife functions, I have not finished learning about my wife; she continues to surprise, one the most important conditions in marrying anyone.

As time went by I befriended a few more women, women I admire for many reasons (one of the most important conditions in befriending anyone), and a vague shape began to emerge. I think the number of women whose behaviour I can accurately predict has increased dramatically. I still do not have the same level of understanding as I do of men and likely never will. However, I'm quite pleased that I've achieved any level of understanding of women.

Begin rambling:
Some days, I feel I understand other people better than I do myself but I also get the feeling that a lot of other people feel the same way. That makes some sense, I suppose, since you can't really get an objective look at yourself. On the other hand, you can't get the full picture of someone else since you're never privy the whole of another person's life. Or perhaps there's just too much information to sift through for any useful analysis on oneself.
End crazy-person mumbling.

Well, in any case, I'm sure it speaks to my controlling nature that I even try to approach people in such a manner. I'm inquisitive by nature and I like to simplify. Where others might see crass reductionism, I just see it as elegance. If I can simplify something and the occasional someone without losing accuracy, that is beautiful to me.

10.18.2004

Trust

I begin to realize that I have little faith in human nature but I think humanity has what it takes to survive.

I agree that businesses can operate more efficiently without government regulation. However, time and time again history has shown us that there will be those who will abuse the system to maximize their gain. Regulation to prevent harm to the consumer is essential. Where is the line drawn? Well, that's the black magic of economic governance. Human nature being what it is, and with corporations embodying the most cut-throat aspects of human nature, I have little faith in corporate entities to police themselves.

Business interests wield considerable power in the US and, though a touch less so here in Canada, they are a mighty force that shapes our society. We have given our schools over to training employees, we have given industry a veto over our environment and the spectre of a profit-oriented health system looms ever larger as we wait for the baby boomers to become daisy bloomers.

Human nature has put our Canadian health system to the test. The current system is being flooded with cost overruns. As more and more treatments become available for more and more health problems, the price of keeping people alive past the point of natural selection will continue to skyrocket. The system is bureaucratic, difficult to manage and inefficient. It is the price of a public service to bloat itself. When there is no one to answer to other than the anonymous taxpayer plus the required transparency of a public service, the many-headed hydra of governmental inefficiency will rear its ugly head heads, uh, head(s).

The alternative, however, is apallingly clear. A private sector health industry will always put profit first. Corners will be cut, people will be denied service, the cold brutality of darwinian economics will eradicate any faint trace of altruism that may yet linger in a public health system. The business of health would hum like a lean, mean, well-oiled machine. If it didn't, well, that's more profit that's not being squeezed out and if businesses do one thing well it's squeezing for profit so tight that blood comes out of every pore. Oh, human nature, you kill me.

So what's a hater of human nature to do? How about: be optimistic. People in this country like their public health care. As much as we complain about the problems, we complain even more about the threats to privatise the system. I believe today's system is stronger than when it first started. The problems of today come from a slow reaction time and poor planning to an increased demand. We adapt slowly but we adapt. It's true that there have to be problems before people will change things and that anyone with a bit of sense can see those coming down the road. But in the end, change is made. As danger grows, so grows salvation. As I've said in the past, the danger is always being willing to change before it becomes too late. I do believe we have the foresight to recognize it, and I do believe there will always be the will to change.

I do have faith in humanity. While I am willing to concede that it may be a naive take on human history, though we have done so much harm to one another, I can see the great work we have done to build ourselves up. Let's hope we don't blow it.