Adults in the Room?
The last thing I want is more dependents.
You’ll hear the joke a good psychiatrist wants you to be responsible and independent, and paying his fees is proof you are getting better. The truth is, almost no psychiatrist works to set you free, but keeps telling you to come back for the next session because you still have issues with this or that. The same can be said for an awfully big slice of all medical care. While there are plenty of doctors who do try to get their patients well, the system under which they labor makes sure they fail. Indeed, Big Pharma depends on making you dependent on one chemical compound or another.
It’s the same with software. The sales pitch from commercial vendors is how they can set you free to get real work done, and letting the machines grind out the repetitive tasks. The FOSS developers try to tell you they don’t want your money, so they are really setting you free. And hey, you can look at the code and see for yourself! If you and I could write code, we wouldn’t need any of those projects. Readers will recall I’ve moaned about how the GNOME and KDE projects have completely set themselves free from user accountability, but that’s the norm. XFCE? I recall the lead developer removed functionality from his newest series, and tartly posted on his webpage if you want it back, code it yourself. I wanted to ask if there were any adults involved in his project. FOSS simply removes the drudgery of having to report to someone who might be a bit more interested in the customer’s needs.
So with commercial software, the user is the dependent child, whereas in FOSS it’s the developers who get to play the petulant brat instead of the user. Instead of the fake “customer is always right” you have a very real “developer is always right” and “user is always wrong.” Yet I wonder why the commercial folks who attack FOSS never discuss this characteristic failure, that FOSS arrogantly and almost violently rejects accountability. The few really successful FOSS projects long term are the ones who strive to serve the user’s actual needs, and there aren’t many of those.
And megachurches? They, too, want to keep you dependent. My complaints about Life Church have yet to be answered, because what I wrote is true of all megachurches, and far too many little churches, as well. They want to keep you dependent, coming back for more. The fundamental claim of the Reformation was the independence of the Christian man to decide for himself certain issues of faith. Yet every denomination arising directly from the Reformation (Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reformed, etc.) have worked very hard to make sure you know your place, there in the pews and filling the offering basket. The only independence is that of the leadership from the Catholic hierarchy.
To the degree I market what I teach and what I do with religion, I proclaim loudly the last thing I want is have you depend on me for anything. Indeed, I often teach the content is far less important than the method of arriving at religious doctrine. I try to provoke you to do your own thing, mostly by challenging you to think about certain fundamental issues. I want you to ask questions, and I fully delight in having people disagree with me about the answers. Don’t sit at my feet, but at my table. This guarantees I won’t be building any empires. It’s not so much I claim to be better than all the rest, but it certainly seems I’m very different from them.
And yet, I hold myself accountable to you, dear reader. If you ask a question, it’s my duty to answer as best I can. I presume to teach you this is how adults act. You aren’t accountable to me, but to whomever you intend to help, inform, guide or lead. Do the job or get out of it. Frankly, being a prophet, whether by intent or by simple effect, leaves you isolated in the sense you will not enjoy at all the clinging dependency of anyone. The whole point is to make folks independent, by teaching them to be accountable to something bigger than us all, however it is you imagine that something. Hook up to the source directly on your own.
Those who reach for that will isolate themselves. If you don’t appreciate the necessity of that, you won’t enjoy your independence. Not the isolation in the sense of no interaction, but in the sense of being one of the few givers, instead of a massive taker. Not wholly independent, but simply refusing depend on others for those things you shouldn’t, and recognizing the difference. There are plenty of things you won’t do for yourself because it demands too much and takes you away from your mission. In those things you take what you can get and don’t fuss too much. These things will isolate you, because there are so few like that.
You’ll long for the company of adults because you simply won’t see that many.