Man, that's seductive. Who doesn't want a simple reason for why things happen or who they happen to? Just tell me what I need to know so I can simply move through my life unaffected. No difficulty. No problems. Simple. Sounds good, right?
Except here's the thing: the K.I.S.S. principle works as it should when it remains within the discipline in which it was created - engineering. On those terms I wholeheartedly agree, when trying to repair a spy plane during war times let's keep the tooling and design as simple as possible so our pilots and crew come back in one piece. Perfectly reasonable.
But guys, this is not a strategy to take with our lives or other human beings. This is not a sustainable approach to building communities where people want and need to belong. And it is certainly not a strategy for parenting. Raising people to weather challenging times is hard! It's the hardest thing I've done in my life and maybe because I was raised with some simple truths:
- You work everyday or you're lazy.
- You are a virgin or you're a slut.
- You take care of yourself or you're a pain in the ass.
- You go to church on Sunday or you're not faithful.
- You laugh at others or you're the joke.
- You get good grades or you're stupid.
- You shut up or you're not grateful.
- You're right or you're wrong.
- You're good or you're bad.
- You love or you hate.
What a bunch of bullshit! This is not reality. The reality is we need to be resilient. We need to be able to think critically about the world around us to grow through the challenges we face and do our best to anticipate actual risks. Then we get to decide whether they are worth trying to overcome or not so we can quickly move on to the next thing. I'm not intentionally discounting random events (weather, illness, accidents) because I know they happen and reset paths all the time. That said, we can only 'control' that if we are living a fear-driven life vs. a values-driven life. I'm talking to values-driven people here, folks!
It's bullshit to expect (or be taught) that humans are going to sail through 80 years of existence and feel one of three things - happy...or sad or pissed off about not being happy. That expectation is making us feel isolated and alone.
We feel like we are the only ones who feel ashamed, helpless, or terrified sometimes. We tend to disregard our feelings related of ambition, curiosity and joy so we stay humble. Whatever we are feeling we have the K.I.S.S. mindset telling us 'You Are Making This Too Complicated".
Bullshit - we are more complex than that and it's perfectly normal to feel however you are feeling whenever you are feeling it.
Just like me, Kelly Johnson believed simple systems could keep complex people safe. So my hat goes off to the engineer who coined a phrase, Keep It Simple Stupid, for a way to design useful things without unnecessary complexity. Well done! Complex humans were safer because of your brilliance.
I look forward to continuing to do the hard work of challenging myself and community to think about issues such as parenting, schools and governance in a way that supports and enriches vs. isolates and excludes.
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