POEM: Incompetent Evil

I don’t care much for
I don’t care much for incompetence
Though when together
Incompetence becomes a

As in math, sometimes in , multiplying two negatives can produce some positive results.  There is at times some hope to be taken at the all too frequent observation that many things happen in the world.  Specifically, there is hope to be drawn from actions accompanied by incompetence.  In this case, incompetence is an ally of the good, truncating , preventing it from manifesting its complete intent.  If you are an optimist such as I, you might even dare call this a .

I like this short poem mostly because it illuminates perhaps the most fundamental division in human physics and , the mundane and the .  Physics is basically the realm of , the sometimes uber-successful reductionistic approach characteristic of .  Great advances have been made in understanding how the physical world works, the means of controlling the “outer” world, the so-called objectively real.   breaks things down to understand each of its constituent parts behaves (cause and effect) and how they interact with one another. Unfortunately, this is only the crudest form of how things , and only “half” of the picture (in the sense of balance, not quantitatively).  At its worst kills the whole to study the dead parts.  Dissecting a frog may produce a lot of knowledge but it does kill the frog.  Similarly, our quest for knowledge can kill life to study its lesser constituent parts.   is the opposite, the complement to reductionism, which studies life from the perspective of the relationship of the whole to the part, not the relationship of parts to each other.  Most people recognize that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts — due to humans’ metaphysical faculties.  Sadly, an overfocus on has allowed our higher faculties to atrophy (use it or lose it!), and we literally cannot tell apart life from .  My favorite example of the manifestation of this is our apparent inability to distinguish between human persons and corporate persons (which are famously said to be made up of human persons — well they got the “made up” part correct!).  When we can’t differentiate a human worker from a brick — reducing them both to “expenses” — we are in deep trouble as a human race!  We seem to be able to produce a lot of things, and cool stuff, but the of human seems resistant to such machinations — perhaps because we are not machines.  We need to strike a healthier, life-affirming balance between physics and .  As often happens, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has said much of this much more succinctly:

investigates; interprets. gives man knowledge which is ; gives man which is . Science deals mainly with ; deals mainly with values.  The two are not rivals. They are complementary.  Science keeps from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete and .”

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