The search for certainty

We all want it and the reality is we can’t always get it. The absolute conviction that forecast events will occur, that something is the case or that predicted outcomes will be reached.

Certainty is a component of our everyday lives.  We encounter certainty with contracts, wedding rings, solving crimes beyond reasonable doubt, cause analysis, financial speculation, “googling” and much more. Remember the days of getting public transport and ‘winging it’. Now I check the real time ETA every few minutes! Or those days when we said we would meet a friend at midday – and we met them then and there, no multiple text influx at 30 second intervals.

Society has become obsessed with rationalisation and the ability to predict and control outcomes. What happens when we face uncertainty? Society is in disarray… confusion and frustration prevail.

Question mark

Why don’t we know the answer?

In the case of flight MH370, uncertainty threw even the most powerful and resourced nations into a tail spin with over 26 countries committing to the biggest search and rescue operation over the past century.  The conversations I  read and heard appeared to centre around uncertainty and the frustration of ‘not knowing’.  WHERE is the plane? WHY can’t we find out? WHY can’t technology give us the answer? I think we need to look at the statistics in perspective.  There are approximately 18 million flights p.a and this is the only flight that has vanished in modern aviation history (~1903) – we are all familiar with a margin of error.

When a new disease is discovered and treatment is uncertain, again we have citizens begging medical practitioners for answers.  WHY don’t you know what caused this? WHY don’t you know how to cure it?

Recently scientists discovered a new galaxy.  A whole new planetary system that we had no clue about before….WHY did we not know about this earlier?

Uncertainty is deemed unacceptable

Uncertainty is the opposite and equally valid notion of certainty and society ought to embrace it if its actors stand any chance of progress. A few examples of events that have had major impacts on society that weren’t able to be ‘controlled’.

  • Global Financial Crisis and other economic disasters
  • Natural disasters
  • Disease
  • Unforeseen tragedies
  • Unsolved crimes

Adapt and embrace

I believe the only exception to the rule (and there is always one!) is the determination by police to solve a crime beyond reasonable doubt for years after the crime has occurred to ensure justice is served.  For example, the case of Daniel Morcombe, a ten year old boy who disappeared over a decade ago whose killer has finally been prosecuted.

It’s no secret that certainty about income, for example, can be necessary to one’s lifestyle.  When you drill down is it really? There is always welfare if you needed to maintain material subsistence, provided you had exhausted all avenues in your quest ‘to earn a quid’.  What if you adapted to a less expensive lifestyle and resorted to a job that perhaps paid less?

I’m personally making a special effort to ‘go with the flow’ and avoid predicting and controlling outcomes on a daily basis.  Something many of you may be familiar with – life ain’t black and white as they say! We need to embrace the grey area.

After all, are we really locked in to anything? We can say with certainty we will execute the deliverables of a contract, be with someone forever or believe it unlikely to contract a particular disease.  But the truth is – we don’t know, and nor should we.

circle-concern-control

 

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Loves of our lives

Inspired by Hanna Rosin’s debate on ‘The end of men’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas that was focused on the changing role of women in society. Her discussion on ‘the hook up culture’ was of particular interest so I have completed a brief comparison on relationships a few decades ago and those we see now.

Rewind back to our grandparents era…(Early-mid 1900’s)

Most men and women claimed to be straight (or didn’t have the courage to defy social norms?), sex before marriage was not commonplace, you often dated only 1 or 2 people before marrying and in many instances married quickly.  Both my grandparents were married for 50 years+

Fast forward to today

A variety of relationships exist in society: straight, gay, bi, transgender, de facto as well as numerous options to conceive and nurture children through IVF, surrogacy, adoption, foster care. Abortion rates are increasing (in Australia this is high at 70K p.a.) and divorce rates have been on the increase for a while.

divorcechildren

An interesting transition that could explain relationships over time is through the integration of science and education. Education has created technology which has created more educated people through accessibility, ubiquity and real time answers to questions (where would we be without Google!).

As people become more educated they realise they don’t need to rely or ‘follow’ a popular life journey. In the developed world at least it seems obvious this typically involves… school, work full time, get married by 30, buy a house, have children by 40 and the rest is history.  This is a common pattern and certainly one that I have seen develop with numerous friends getting engaged by the age of 29 to then be married by 30.  Is it a race to the popular life journey finish line? I’m not sure but seems coincidental at least.  Perhaps the biological clock plays a role but with all of the technological advances that have created options above to conceive / nurture children it seems the biological clock isn’t as crucial as once thought.

 Changing patterns of relationships

There is a culture out there (tinder users you know who you are!) where people are quite happy to ‘hook up’ and move on to the next person they choose.  No strings attached.  No hanging out.   The freedom to choose what you want when you want and meet a whole heap of interesting (and probably not so interesting people) along the way.  Perhaps also a valid mechanism for the busy, not so social or shy people out there who are looking for their other half.  News.com.au recently reported that ‘The average female now has eight partners during her lifetime, up from four in the 1990s – and catching up with men, whose average is 12….’.

In last week’s Sunday Life one of the articles I read was by a lady who after ‘years of child rearing, is now smugly single‘.  Dianne Blacklock notes that by 2020 the number of single person households is expected to increase by reaching 16%.  A very interesting read as she discusses her requests by people to rationalise her relationship status.

“Apparently I have a problem. You see, years after getting divorced, I’m still single, and I’m not actively doing anything about it. I am told, repeatedly, that I’m supposed to be putting myself “out there”. Out where? Where is this mythical place? And why is everyone so insistent that I “put” myself there?”

This lonely london lady is so keen on finding a boyfriend she has set up lost boyfriend posters!

Disbanding the ‘nuclear family’

While Australia is a wage earner welfare state focused on the assumption that most members of society form a ‘nuclear family’ with a male breadwinner, stay at home wife and 2.5 children.  (How can you have half a child anyway???).  Clearly this needs some revising as women are starting to combine the roles of caregiver and career woman – igniting their intellect and reclaiming their role as equal to men with 45% of women now comprising the workforce. (Ungerson) 31% of women versus 17% of men will require care in institutions as women are considered to be overworked due to the two roles.

Hanna Rosin states that the income of women is increasing while our male counterparts is decreasing.  This could be due to our prior ‘underdog’ status and therefore increased ability to adapt or ‘hustle’ as Hanna calls it and change.  Did you know that for every 3 degrees women earn men earn 2?  We can even see the role of women changing by watching sitcom episodes in the 70s compared to now. Domestic violence is decreasing with divorce increasing partly due to women now being less financially dependent on men. Women are what could now be considered the apple computers of humanity as Hanna eloquently put it!

It’s clear that society will evolve how society wants to evolve and policies developed by the State particularly those relating to the Market need to be progressive.  For example, policies relating to work, corporations, child rearing, relationships, welfare benefits, marriage laws (including gay marriage) and support services.  Policymakers should have concepts in mind like Hanna’s description of women, with their ability to ‘adapt and change’.

http://news.com.au/money/investing/the-perfect-time-to-start-a-family/story-e6frfmdr-1226757189749

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/nate-bagleys-best-relationship-advice-2014-2