On being lucky

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By Ari Rutenberg

I got a new apartment today.  I am really happy, and, as I am constantly reminded, lucky to live in such a beautiful place (Amsterdam) and even more fortunate in my housing.  But as I was thinking about it, what really came to mind is he fact that as much as luck comes in many ways, most people associate it with financial and social gain.  But those of us who are truly lucky are those who both have the gifts of intelligence and deep thought and the ability to use them. 

Yet I find that as much as I read, write, ponder, and discuss politics I am almost always consumed with finding and diagnosing problems, but like a bad doctor I tend to offer many problems and few solutions.  And as I read around some of my favorite authors and bloggers I find they are susceptible to the same thing.  For instance Glenn Greenwald, in my opinion the most thoroughly researched and certainly one of the most eloquent of our kind, is absolutely brilliant at discussing problems and offering concrete evidence of wrongdoing, rather than passionate assertion.  But he offers only a few solutions.  While he is certainly among the most active in terms of helping to raise awareness and money for progressive Democrats, we need minds like his to at least begin a real and practical debate on how to solve problems like universal health care and homelessness.  Any mind like his could contribute so much more than just a detailed analysis of the problem, but most popular voices do not.

I certainly include myself in this.  And thats what gets me back to the luck.  I realized that as lucky as I am, I spend far to much time complaining and not nearly enough offering solutions to the problems. 

Now I realize that it is often hard to offer solutions when you are constantly defending yourself against accusation of unpatriotic behavior and 'looney'-ness.  But by only complaining and never actually trying to start a positive dialogue, we will go nowhere but in circles.  When we start spending our time offering contribution instead of criticism, we elevate the debate rather than simply being correct.   We will also relieve our own malaise and boredom in terms of this interminable election because we will be setting the terms of the debate and the topic of conversation, and will be able to do more than discuss their narrow and partisan agenda. 

Those of us who have the fortune to have a brain and a voice need to do more.  So I pledge to write at least 50% of my future article on solutions,
since the problems are all well established.  Some will be big
solutions and some small, but if we are to move forward, we must have
somewhere to go rather than just somewhere we came from and we must
begin to discuss it now if we are to use our power any more wisely than
the neocons when our time comes.  I hope that some of you will too, because there are too many good brains out in the blogosphere to waste talking about how Bush & Co are still corrupt warmongers and the Democrats still spineless surrender monkeys (which I think everyone sort of gets at this point), when we could be using our luck to the fullest and offering the brilliant solutions that will change the world.