Friday, June 28, 2013

60 Seconds

  - What do you do? I see you here all the time.
- Nothing much.
- Are you a professor?
- The guys who work here like to call me The Professor. Just for fun.
- You talk like a professor.
- I can talk like a professor. Mostly I sit up on those high chairs by the window. You know, this is a famous Starbucks, three screenwriters here have been hired to write about how Indian mysticism will save the world from terrorism. They claim they haven't been hired by the same man, but I'm pretty sure I've seen him here.
- The man who hired them?
- Yes. A middle aged Indian with a beard. He likes to stare.
- Why is he paying for three screenplays?
- Maybe he thinks screenplays will save the world. And maybe he won't pay.
- Do you write screenplays? Do you get paid?
- Don't write screenplays, don't get paid.
- What do you do then? You sit up on those high chairs and look out the window?
- You object?
- I heard you talking about politics.
- I was telling the guys behind the counter how to understand the world when you only had a minute for reflection between saying how can I help you today and filling coffee cups.
- What did you say?
- Do you have a watch?
- I have my phone.
- Give me 60 seconds.
- Ok.
- You have to pay your debts, banks don't. You have to obey the laws, the powerful don't, and the government doesn't. Do you know why?
- Why?
- Because no one knows why or how things work in our society. If things stop working, no one knows how to repair them, except to let them go back to how they were before they were broken. When you don't pay, don't obey the rules, you are a minor disruption. A maintenance problem. Interfering in your life, forcing you to obey, and pay, creates more order. When the powerful don't pay and don't obey, forcing them to pay and obey would cause large amounts of disruption. Complete break down. Check your telephone.
- Only 30 seconds.
- Good. 30 seconds to set out the problem, 30 seconds to serve up the solution.
- You're wasting time. What's the solution?
- Let me take a sip of coffee. People imagine societies run themselves by a mechanism of compromise, a mechanism free of ideas, meaningless and so the source of fear when it fails. Obviously when people start thinking what they do with each other in public has meaning, public life is susceptible to being understood, and they don't have to be afraid of a little trouble.
- That's it?
- That's it.