Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The OverCompensation Equation

People are imperfect beings. We may aim at the bullseye, but sometimes we only hit the outer rings.

Tell me, if you play "darts" and find that when you aim at the bullseye, your dart always hits just to the right bullseye - what would you do? I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd adjust by aiming a little further to the left of the bullseye. It might take a couple of tries to get it right, but this is how many of us compensate for our natural, and often very understandable, failings. Hopefully, we'll get it right, eventually. What's almost guaranteed, though, is that we'll overcompensate, at some point, in the effort to achieve our goal. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the goal. We just haven't fine-tuned the process by which we achieve that goal.

That's what we do. Through trial-and-error we try to fine-tune our OverCompensation Equation until we get the intended result... or close enough.

So, what about when the goal has to do with race, religion, politics, or sexual orientation? What do we do then? The same thing we always do, Pinky - we over-compensate.

"Racism is bad. I feel bad about racism. I don't want to be a racist. I don't want other people to be racists. One of the signs of racism is focusing on race...

Focusing on race must be bad. I feel bad when people focus on race. I don't want to focus on race. I don't want other people to focus on race."

Close enough, huh? Well, not quite. My race is a factor in my life. I don't want anyone negatively judging me because of my race, but I also don't think one should underestimate its relevance. I think a number of people of various sexual, religious, and political persuasions feel similarly.

So, it seems the well-intentioned person who forged that flawed chain-of-logic (in quotes, above) has overshot the mark. A good person made what I consider to be a bad (or just flawed) decision. So, what does that mean? Does this make him or her bad? Is the human race doomed? Is it a waste of time to even try to conquer these socio-political obstacles? No. I don't think that's what it means. I think it just means that he or she needs to try harder.

That's what we all need to do. Sometimes "good" just isn't good enough. In my opinion, we all need to try harder. That includes everyone -those of us who are too quick to get pissed when someone criticizes "our people" AND those of us who are too afraid to criticize anyone else's "people," alike. That includes those who hates gays and those who blindly claim that sexual orientation is irrelevant and not worthy of discussion. That includes those who see no failings within a religious denomination or organization AND those who see nothing BUT failings within them and by them.

We all need to try harder. Focus more. Adjust more. Keep going for that bullseye. Be prepared to fail, then try again. In my opinion, the solution to the OverCompensation Equation is diligence - perservering, despite temporary failures or apparent obstacles.

What do you think?


nikki said...

this is kinda tied to the previous discussion we had about race, huh? :)

i won't say much, just that you define race as i define ethnicity, so i guess the semantics is the only difference, not the intent.

West said...

re: "this is kinda tied to the previous discussion we had about race, huh? :)"

Kinda, but this wasn't a "clever" response to your points. I just think that people seem to be unable to hit the target, so we settle for "close enough." Sure, there are racial/ethnic/cultural examples of this, but I was really speaking on the general condition.

re: "i won't say much, just that you define race as i define ethnicity, so i guess the semantics is the only difference, not the intent."

I agree that it comes down to the intent - kinda like the gun proponent's responses to the misuse of firearms. It's not the tool so much as how it's used.

I think it's a bit of both, but that's weighted by the consequences of that misuse.