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These are the things I know.

Up Close and Personal

Originally posted 10/3/07

Occasionally politics rouses me. I have ranted here on a variety of subjects. Generally though, I am indifferent to politics and I believe this indifference is not because I am unconcerned. My indifference is because I have analysed the problem and decided that I am unable to engage with politics because I am not part of politics.

Politicians look at statistics. They look at us and make their judgements about us and for us, from a distance. Some cynics might say that they look at us from a distance that is the height of their ivory towers. Or their panopticon.

From a distance the world is statistics, general, vague. It is a world of averages.

Unfortunately, one property of averages is that very few people are average: My wife and her siblings have 7 children between them, at an average of 2.3 children each. None of them have 2.3 children, or even 2 if you round it down.

And did you know, the cast majority of people in the world have more than the average number of legs? And for legs you can substitute hands, arms, eyes, testicles, kidneys, ovaries or any body part we have more than one of. People are simply not average. Therefore, every political decision will upset virtually everyone, and they will be derided for not having met the needs of the individual.

From far away, lines are crisp, colours flat: black is black and white is white.

The people represented by the politicians view the world up close. Up close, statistics become people, and up close, people become personalities. Up close, flat surfaces are mountain ranges.

Politicians make decisions from far away using the rules that apply to far away. People judge politicians from up close. We use the laws of up close to make those judgements. The laws of up close and far away are not interchangeable: they do not describe the other place. They are like the laws of Einstein and Newton. One is better up close, the other far away.

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