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earthrise: The rock in the middle of the road

THE gift of contradictional analysis as a conceptual tool is the ability to transcend complaining about the ”rocks in the middle of the road” that we all encounter, and objectively deal with them when complaints are set aside.

One obvious contradiction in our western mode of thought is the notion of competition for limited resources, and though we have graduated from doomsday and apocalyptic scenarios of population growth going out of control, the 50-year China policy of limited family sizes is a demonstration of attempted population management.

We’ve referred to the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, a renowned English cleric and scholar, influenced by Adam Smith and David Ricardo, still influencing political thought even if what is now known as Malthusian catastrophe has gained academic acceptance.  What Malthus projected to be deficient proved to have enough to go around.  However, the conservative’s distrust of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s theories that influenced Lenin and Mao make Malthus still a darling of those who go by ideology rather than reality.

The “rock in the middle of the road” is a reality that often stubs our toes, thus, the need to deal with them when they stubbornly appear.  What The Donald is finding out is that there might be aesthetic in the description of vision and precision in the statements of a mission, but the abundance of the rocks on the road is moving The Donald away from his vaunted ideological bent into the practical function of running the executive branch of a nation.

Administratively, in the CNMI, the rock on the middle of the road is often running into bureaucratic procedures.  They are not meant to delay or stifle creativity but they end up doing so because bureaucrats tend to protect their positions in their agencies first, and “assume” that an applicant or user of a bureaucratic office is either out to bend the rule, or take advantage of an existing one. 

It is the “rock in the middle of the road” that contradictional analysis deals with in many situations.  Educators use KSA (knowledge, skill, and attitude) to categorize preparation for lessons.  What data do children need to know, what skills do they need to learn to perform, and what attitude do they need to have in order to move forward.

There is nothing wrong with the familiarity of these categories save the clarity that at every turn, one needed to decide one’s KSA, and European moralism emerged quickly.  It did not take long to have the “right” knowledge, skill, and attitude.  “Wrong” KSA was quickly rooted out, and we were smart to “dress up” our KSA before coming to school.

Since the earthrise of 1968, I’ve expanded the categories into four to describe what humans do.  They sense with the eyes, ears, nose, tongue (mouth), and fingers (skin), feel joy and despair with the emotions (heart), think with words and numbers to describe experience, express feelings, and articulate ideas, before formulating plans.  KSA took the sequence of sense, feel, think, and do.

Actual rocks in the middle of the road, especially from mountainsides when they tumble down from higher grounds, are dealt with through shovels if they are not too huge, or bulldozers if they needed to be moved with more than muscle strength.  Contradictions are, however, matters of feelings and thoughts in the SFTD scheme; it is attitude and knowledge in the KSA perspective.  It is the level of SENSES that I added to make sure we are not stuck in emotions and cognition too soon, would focus on the sensing first before circulating on feelings and thoughts heading into the DOING.

These are all conceptual to the guys fixing the zigzag road heading to Capital Hill from Lower Base in Saipan since the “rock in the middle of the road” is rather concrete, but the government guys dealing with the paperwork on contract workers, in the current uncertain (and some would say, “sorry”) state of the legal status, deal with many conceptual contradictions.

Work used to be just work until it became profitable to parley human resources into contracts, and suddenly, concrete work on construction got moved to shuffling papers to meet legal requirements.  We now have parents with American citizen children who have to return home to process their CWs because Uncle Sam says so.  Some of the Pinoys will be at the mercy of a functionary at the U.S. Embassy in Manila when they lived for more than a decade in the CNMI, find the prospect unattractive.

Procedures has become of consequence when we formally joined the “constitutional” (wrote laws) ways of the United States.  Contradictional analyses are beyond just the rock on the middle of the road.  They are actual lives, flesh and blood of human beings whose lives mattered until they became just a number, and a paper rock in the middle of the road!

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