I’ve come to realize that this is a controversial statement for some people.
Two issues, it seems:
- Better implies that what we have right now is imperfect. Better requires change, and change is scary. Better might be in the eye of the beholder. Better is an assertion, one that requires not just the confidence to say it, but the optimism to believe that it’s possible.
- Make implies that it’s up to us. Someone needs to make it better, and it might just be you. In fact, if you don’t enlist to produce better, you’re part of the status quo, which is a problem.
I’ve seen that there are pockets of our culture where both of these ideas are difficult to embrace. That authority pushes us to fit in, not to seek improvement, and deniability encourages us to whine instead of doing something about it. Power enjoys passivity in others.
Power doesn’t want you to get uppity, doesn’t enjoy your dissatisfaction, doesn’t want to be on the hook to continually upgrade all of its systems. And so power has sold a cultural norm of acceptance, deniability and ennui.
Everything in our built world–the water we drink, the food we eat, the place we live–if it’s good, it’s good because someone, a generation or two ago, decided to make it better. And if it’s not good, or not good enough, only our action is going to make it better.
We can see the world around us, and if we try, we can see it becoming better.
It might be a podcast or a political campaign, an engineering insight or a more inclusive policy. It probably involves finding and organizing others on a similar path. It definitely takes guts.
I’ll reiterate my belief that we each have a chance to assert. To announce our vision, to propose a change, to do the hard work to make things better.
It’s on us, right now.
Make things better by making better things.