In most cases, we know what is the right thing to do, but how to get there is a much more difficult, and I would say, a much more important question. It is actually fairly easy to see what is wrong in the world – both in the larger world, and in our small world. Imagining how it should be is also not that hard. The large swaths of the territory in between tend to lay unexplored. People who go there are my heroes, even if they sometimes get lost. They come up with ideas about how things should be changed, revised, improved, and approved. To every objection, they have yet another idea, another plan of actions.
My son is reading Dostoyevsky now, and I was reminded about his descriptions of Russian intelligentsia: people who cared deeply about injustice, and knew how a just and kind society should look like, but never cared enough about how to get there. Their problem was in misunderstanding of the Czar’s authority. They simply saw the beginning and the end of the journey, and assumed that one in power should be either very evil, or very stupid not to make the journey. Till this day, most people identifying themselves as intelligentsia perceive authority as something unclean, if not outright evil. Having never had been in power, they do not understand how it works, its limitations and challenges. Only for some very brief periods of time some of them tried to run the country, every time with disastrous consequences. The optimism and moral outrage quickly turn into cynicism: if it cannot be changed right away, then it cannot be changed at all. That’s where I am the least Russian, hopefully.
Peoples with democratic traditions have overcome this disease, to various degrees. Many Americans, for example, took part in running something – a PTA, a club, a block party, a car pool. They have been to elections, where their voice actually mattered. Any illusions about a simple way from A to B tend to dissolve by adulthood. But the human impulse behind it such an illusion is always in place; it is natural and one has to train oneself out of it. It goes like this: when A is so bad, and B is definitely so much better, why doesn’t someone DO something about it? Like, RIGHT NOW? Well, probably, because there is no someone, or someone does not have enough authority, resources or time, or someone simply has no idea how to cross that stretch of land.
This is all, of course, about the coming elections. Go and vote for someone who you think has a better idea on how to get there from here.