Three baby turtles swimming in a tub of sandy water
Practical Philosophy

All Problems Come from Ignorant Non-alignment

I believe in two things: the value of love and the danger of ignorance. I believe, as I explained recently, that those two things are related pretty profoundly.

I believe something else too: different people want different things. But I think wanting different things doesn’t have to be an obstacle to compromise and everyone feeling like their needs and wants are understood, accepted, and accommodated in a solution to a problem that isn’t specifically what they would have chosen.

I think all of the most sticky problems in the world are fundamentally solvable. After all, we humans made the messes, we humans can solve them.

People can align their conflicting needs and wants and create compromise. Compromise is reached through a two-step process. First we have to be clear about where everyone is on a particular topic — what they understand, how they feel about it, and what they’d like to do about it — then we have to align our vision and find a solution that meets everyones needs.

This process of finding compromise by building a mutual understanding and an alignment on vision is not easy. When facing long histories of misunderstanding, it’s probably the hardest communication task that anyone has ever undertaken. But it’s both possible and valuable.

When we see other’s views clearly, fully, and with a will to help, we’ll naturally become aligned with them. We’ll find a way we can work together to make us all happy. Ignorance is tenacious, and alignment takes work. But it’s always possible to use those two as the levers by which we solve even the hardest problems.

Like this essay? Subscribe via RSS or email, or follow on Twitter and you'll never miss another like it.