Not my problem… yet.

Taido/Blog has been fixed, but not neutered.

A few months after I launched Taido/Blog, I had some major problems with the software backend, and it prompted me to confront a personal weakness. In particular, I wrote about the mental “willful ignorance” category of thought of which we all seem to make liberal, if unconscious, use. This is a giant brain database of things we have consciously or unconsciously decided not to bother with learning to understand.

I believe that this is a pervasive habit among humans; it’s prevalent in every culture with which I have any experience. Sometimes, we just decide that things are going to be impossible for us, and then we prove that assumption to ourselves. Here in Japan, it’s especially common; I can’t count the number of times I’ve made a perfectly lucid comment in Japanese, only to be met with the response “eigo wakarimasen (I don’t understand English)”. Apparently any utterance issued by white people is English…

Westerners are not immune to this kind of thinking. Somebody makes a comment we don’t like, and we decide that this person is an asshole without even taking the time to consider why he or she may have made such a statement. It’s quite possible that there was a good reason – after all, most non-psychotic people believe themselves to have rational purposes for most of what they say.

In Life, the Universe, and Everything (I think it was that one), Douglas Adams gives us a wonderful example of a practical application for this phenomenon in the not-my-problem field that Slartibartfast uses to hide the Starship Bistromath. What kinds of not-my-problem fields are there in Taido? What aspects of our practice do we just take at face value without bothering to look at the possibility of finding better methods? What have we chosen (consciously or unconsciously) not to bother learning to understand? I’ve been trying to answer these questions for myself in my writing on Taido/Blog.

I think we relegate things to our mental willful-ignorance files for three major reasons. Sometimes, we just don’t feel something is important enough. Other times, we may be trusting somebody else to take care of it for us. Most often, I think it’s because we don’t feel we are capable of understanding the issue well enough to contribute significantly to managing it. In any of these three cases, there is a very good chance that whatever issue we store away like this will come back to bite us at a later date.

And this brings us up to date with Taido/Blog. At one point, I had been having issues with my database software, and I arranged what seemed like a viable patch. I figured that I had solved the problem and that no more coding or file management problems would arise until I made my next major overhaul. Was I ever wrong.

Everything looked fine for a couple of days – until I tried to post a comment clarifying a point in my Less Talk, More Rock article, and found that (as some readers had no doubt previously discovered) the comment would not post, and I was rewarded for a few minutes of thoughtful writing with a blank screen. In trying to discover the source of the problem and correct it, I ended breaking my admin interface and rendering the entire site uneditable in the usual manner.

The upshot of this is that I gave myself no choice but to learn a lot more about the code architecture that makes up the WordPress blogging platform. This may provide some cool benefits in the future as it will allow me to tweak things more accurately and avoid giant screw-ups like what happened last week (which I now believe I understand well enough to prevent from happening again – maybe).

Anyway, let’s remember that our willful ignorance, our not-my-problem fields, and our attempts at avoiding sticky issues will eventually bite our asses. Someday, someplace, somehow – “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” I believe that this is true in every corner of our lives – of course, including Taido.

I’ve addressed some not-my-problem problems with Taido in past articles and plan to get around to writing more in the future. Most importantly though is that we all decide to begin thinking about these issues and how we can address them in ways that are healthy and satisfying to all of us. Instead of looking at Taido in terms of “if it ain’t broke…,” let’s get down into the programming, into the machinery, and have a look at what we can do to make Taido the super-badass martial art of the future is was originally conceived to be.

I’m sure there are plenty of aspects of Taido that I too have at some point chosen to ignore. If you think of something I’ve missed, please let me know.

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