Theory vs Reality
My better half frequently berates me about having my head in the clouds. And it’s true that I sometimes do better working things out on a theoretical level, while she is much better dealing with reality. That’s one of the reasons she keeps me away from power tools.
Apparently I’m not alone. There are a lot of folks out there who have great theories that simply don’t work out in the real world.
Karl Marx comes to mind. His solution to 19th century income disparities and class struggle was to come up with theory for a classless society. On paper it looked good: let the state own everything, and everyone is a member of the state. Theoretically everyone is equal and gets an equal share of the fruits of their labor.
Of course we know now that the very elements of human nature that created the inequalities that Marx wanted to fix provided the death knell for his own theory. Communist societies based on his theories simply became authoritarian dictatorships where, in the words of George Orwell, “everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.“
Fast forward to modern day. There are still people looking to use socialist theories to fix perceived wrongs. And while it’s nice to dream of a utopian society where everyone has equal outcomes, the reality of things is that there is not equal input. It’s nice to believe “all men are created equal“ but that doesn’t take into account different levels of ambition.
Any teacher will tell you that despite a school system’s goal of getting everyone through the exact same curriculum with a 100% graduation rate, the reality is quite different. Different levels of intelligence, ambition, parental support, and a host of other factors play into the reality of unequal outcomes. One of the most frustrating things for teachers is to be held responsible for those factors they have no control over.
There was once a place in politics for pragmatists. People who balanced theory versus reality in order to move the conversation forward. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill come to mind. Polar opposites in philosophies, yet they found common ground to produce useful and beneficial legislation.
Too many politicians on both sides of the aisle today live with their heads in the clouds… Or perhaps somewhere else anatomically impossible. Either way, they do the country no service by constantly spouting unworkable theories. Being kind and understanding to low level criminals may sound good until one gets out for the 10th time and murders your neighbor. Arming everyone to the teeth may sound fine until some idiot shoots up a school.
The term “grounded“ should mean not having your head in the clouds. My spouse does a really good job keeping me grounded. We need to do the same with our elected officials.
Theory vs Reality