Black Swan


black-swanAt it’s most simplistic a Black Swan is a bird, yes, but it is also an unexpected event, beyond normal expectations with a “things will never be the same” aftermath. Hindsight usually plays a major part in the aftermath of trying to rationalize “what just happened?”.

There’s plenty of that going on now, however, when I took this picture the day after the election there was only shock.  Joyful shock in the Republican party and just plain shock in the Democratic party.   My post from that day:

black-swan2The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: What we call a Black Swan is an event with the following three attributes:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme ‘impact’, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explains almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives.

And so what of the impact on our personal lives?  I admit I am privileged and I live in abundance, really I want for nothing but what I’m learning is that there are so many of those who want for basic necessities. There are so many of those who are struggling to make ends meet. There are so many of those who’s jobs have vanished and not been replaced.  Trump found a way to reach them and they made their voice heard.  In the aftermath, in the first 100 days, will Trump be able to follow through?  We don’t know but there is every indication he won’t be able to reach many of these people with what he promised.  Because as it turns out just about every President never delivered on their campaign promises…bless you Jimmy Carter you tried like hell.

The results of this election brought home for me the lack in our education system nationally and our education overall.  What are we teaching and to whom.  What are we allowing? Of all the dedicated teachers I know there isn’t a one who feels supported in their endeavors.  That is a sad state of affairs that seems to be revealing itself in the aftermath/rationalization of this Black Swan. In kind, how can we educate ourselves when we insist on getting our information from the mainstream media?  I’m learning the value of the numbers we rely on GDP, jobs reports are so antiquated they can paint a triumphant or a dismal picture at the turn of a page. I’ve long ago given up watching the news but found myself sucked into the hysteria during this election.  I vow not to let that happen again, there are far better ways to stay informed.

Of all the rhetoric I wonder how all of those who bore the brunt of the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist, rude and hurtful remarks will fair.  I wonder how we’ve not allowed ourselves to see just how much hate there is in this country.  One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from the #blacklivesmatter movement is that once you allow yourself to see it, whatever it is from that list above, once you allow yourself to see it you will always see it.  I see it everywhere and I’m weary of seeing it and I’m doing what I can to counteract it.

And this is what I’m also learning.  Everything begins locally and spreads so I’m staying local and vigilant and engaged with my time and my financial support.  It’s important not to get overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done, it is the next right thing that is important.  The next right thing on the local level.  The conversations with neighbors, the engagement in local government, the support of groups who are fighting for the disenfranchised, the support of your voice.

I got most of my centering information from Dan Rather’s posting during and post election.  I got most of my rage from the posting of Facebook tirades, bullying and glorification of the rhetoric that people believe won.  I will gather my strength from the continued learning and doing and using of my voice.

Taleb states that a Black Swan event depends on the observer, that couldn’t be truer in this election.  He goes on to say that what may be a black swan surprise for a turkey is not a black swan surprise for the butcher.  It is up to us to do our best to observe what will be right for this country and it’s many diverse inhabitants and avoid being the turkey in four years.  I remain cautiously optimistic that the checks and balances and our greater conscience will prevail, this is my America the country I believe in and Trump is now the President (because Democracy…),  and I want very much for each of us to believe in it also.


One thought on “Black Swan

  1. As usual you have managed to convey very complex heart wrenching ideas very clearly. I always love your posts. We have see.

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