Appreciating Progress

Work in Progress

I’ve previously expressed disappointment in people who seem to go out of their way to find fault in good news. They work to snatch negativity from the jaws of the positive.

There’s a related mindset I see that isn’t really negative … but it’s not really positive, either.

It’s something I see arising from black and white thinking and an instant gratification mindset.

I’ll post a positive news story, but a story of progress towards, not arrival at, some specific long sought solution. Sometimes these stories look like proposed solutions, perhaps describing what some new advancement may do in the future. But the solution is not here today.

And I get push-back. People will point out “This isn’t good news, the problem remains unsolved!”

True. The problem remains unsolved.

But you may be missing the point.

  • Does it make more people aware of the problem?
  • Does it increase agreement that the problem is worthy of being solved?
  • Does it show an increase in the probability a solution will be found?
  • Does it add to our knowledge by demonstrating things that are not solutions?
  • Does it leverage existing partial solutions and make them less partial?
  • Does it mean that a solution might be found sooner?

In other words, does it represent forward progress?

Lack of success is not always failure. Sometimes it’s simply progress, bringing us closer to the solution we’re looking for.

To me it’s a close relative of black-and-white thinking: only complete solutions seem to count. It’s perhaps the result of a society valuing instant gratification over patience. Either way, it’s wrong.

Complete solutions (if anything is ever complete) are often made up of many partial solutions and small incremental steps. Each of those is required to get it to the final solution. In a very real sense, they are part of the solution.

They give us hope.

And from my perspective, that’s often very good news.

Appreciate progress.

4 thoughts on “Appreciating Progress”

  1. I see something similar in “Whataboutism”:

    “We solved X medical problem!”
    “But too many people don’t get enough food to eat!”

    Yeah, well, that’s a different problem, and we’re making progress there, too.

    It seems some aren’t satisfied until every single problem is solved to perfection at the same time.

    And that ain’t ever gonna happen. As you show, we need to appreciate progress.

  2. I have been a member of the “Ask Leo” subscribers for over 12 and a half years and know of what Leo is saying; I truly believe that he has helped me out of many quandaries that I have had. That is the reason I am still here and enjoying the fruits of his knowledge.
    I would just like to say “You can’t fix stupid”.

  3. I agree. I look forward to the info you provide. You gotta love a step in the right direction. Thanks for all you do.

  4. Amen Leo:

    I saw a TV show from the 90’s X files, a comedy/science fiction drama that referenced technologies dealing with robotics, and environmental energy sources that are becoming realities today! Sometimes what seems like a trivial or vain attempt at a solution takes time to “catch on”. Political events worldwide have been disturbing as of late, but some of them are slowly being resolved and hopefully our fellow “doomsayers” will realize someday just how grateful we all should be.

    Also , I well I’ll save it for later. lol

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