“I wish you had a maid.” We don’t need a maid. “Then I wish you had a robot… but not a very strong one or it might take over.” — Phoebe
I am proud of my daughter for expecting the robot apocalypse. At the same time, we stack laundry high in our house. It reminds me of a cleaner version of my college trash can. We bought a barrel – the size you would set at the street. We would fill it up but then kept stacking. We piled garbage into the corner – when it tipped, it had to be taken out. In the same way, all week we run the washer/dryer slowing piling up clean laundry. Of course the tipping point is not the pile, but when we run out of pants or underwear or…
Looking at a laundry tipping point pile, brought Phoebe’s comments. The pile also brought a realization: I am willing to risk humanity’s end, if it means I no longer have to fold the laundry!
Historians would later lament our selfishness. “If only 21 century humans would have been willing to fold their own laundry…” (Of course it would be robot historians, and so it probably would be more celebration than lament.)
While I do not face a robot dilemma (yet), I do face these type of questions daily. Questions that if an outside observer was making the choice – choosing the best – then the answer would be obvious. Some questions are straight forward – we know the right answer. For instance, should I exercise or watch TV? While I struggle to make the right choice – actually I rest peacefully on the couch – the outside observer would move me to the treadmill.
But the robot dilemma is not so straight forward. And neither are many of the questions we face. Some are convoluted questions, scaled beyond understanding. For instance, why do I drive my car everywhere, if cars are polluting the environment? Or, how can I eat to gluttony, when there is starvation in the world?
What do I mean by “scaled beyond understanding”? I doubt anyone would overeat with a starving person sitting beside them. But when the starvation is a continent away and the food is on our plate… Then there does not even seem to be a question. Scaled beyond understanding. We can not comprehend how our little acts matter affect large events. We can’t grasp the truth, even when it is our little acts creating large destruction.
Love and hate have this potential.
This election cycle – on both sides – has left me floored. People are angry. Upset. It is not a few people voting for outliers. Instead Trump, who called a POW a loser, who ridiculed a disabled person, who accused a debate moderator of menstruating (later refused to attend another debate because of her), who plans to ban all the Muslims, who… this Trump may get to tell the rest of the Republican party “you’re fired”.
How have we come to this point?
Little by little we stopped loving the other political side. Small rants, turned to cold shoulders, then to snide remarks… it slowly became acceptable to hate, rather than love one another. Then it was only a matter of time before it became acceptable to be Trump. To vote for Trump.
Of course the short term solution is obvious.
But the long-term, world changing solution, is to start loving and accepting with grace everyone we encounter. Love has the ability to scale beyond our understanding. Even to scale the mountains that divide our nation.
Amazingly Antonin Scalia’s death pointed to the direction. The conservative Justice was good friends with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal on the court (LA Times). Of course they disagreed about everything on docket – neither would compromise their version of the law – but they found relationship outside. Even vacationing together. How?
Politics are important. Humanity is more important. Love your neighbor. Even the Republicans. Even the Democrats. Even the Socialists. Even the Libertarians. Even… Even the Trump supporters.
Love on this scale will be transformative. To heal a nation. Even to heal the world.
And with love, hopefully the robots will be content just folding the laundry…