RANT: How To Tell A Feature From A Bug

by Scott Huggins

I am sure all my readers are familiar with the phrase: “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”

As noted in the title, this is going to be a rant, and mostly, it’s a rant directed at those who cannot tell human features, which will be with us as long as we are recognizably this species, and bugs, which can be fixed and eliminated by human effort. For those of you who have figured the difference, you can tune out now. For those of you who haven’t I’m about to stomp all over your sacred cows, and if that hurts, you can take this as my invitation to enter the big scary portal marked ALL HOPE ABANDON.

Here’s your first clue: if you are upset about a problem that confronts humanity (or a large part of it), and you feel the problem you are trying to solve is so huge that it can only be solved by everyone pulling together and putting their attention on THAT problem, then it is a feature of the human condition, not a bug.

If you think there is only one way to solve the problem, and anyone doing it any other way is, of necessity, making the problem worse by doing it their way and not yours, then it is a feature, and not a bug.

So let me just tell you this: I have damned well had it up to the limits of my tolerance, patience, and silence with people who spout a continuous line of bullshit about how the only reason they haven’t saved the human race yet is because all the rest of us are “complicit” in its evils. Which stripped down to plain English means that we aren’t as smart as or as good as they are, because they know everything and the only possible reason for disagreeing with them is that we don’t care. It means that they get to decide how to use our energy and time for the best good of all humanity, and if we don’t shut up and follow, then we are the bad guys.

I am damned tired of people like this, who will tell you that Dave Ramsey is really a horrible person because he tells people they can lift themselves out of debt and doesn’t acknowledge the “structural injustices” of the system. Or people like this who hate a beauty-pageant contestant because she dared suggest self-defense could be a good thing. Or people like this who can’t stand that a successful person will give ordinary folks tips on how to adjust themselves rather than “the system” for a more successful life.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but here goes: if you want to change the system, go ahead. Give it your best shot. Change it. But changing systems takes years of effort, and it takes a kind of patience that is ready to accept years or decades of failure and work before the system ever gets changed. If you don’t have that (and most of us don’t) and you still want to get better, then your only option — the only option that will make life better for you, no matter what any “system” looks like — is to change yourself. And that’s what most people have to hope in. That’s the change most people can make on a scale that will give them strength.

So work to change the system. It’s great. The NAACP did. Teach men not to rape. It’s part of a good and effective approach to ending sexual violence. Work for good economic laws. I’ll help. But don’t piss and moan because good people are showing women how to beat the shit out of an attacker. Don’t whine that the poverty of the world isn’t fixed because everyone won’t get on your Marxist dream-train.

Any system that depends on changing everybody everywhere by the efforts of everybody everywhere ignores the simple and basic fact that everybody everywhere never agreed on what to order for lunch. Any system that promises victory “if we all just pull together” is the moral and practical equivalent of promising that we will defeat the enemy after the enemy all drops dead. It’s opening the locked chest with the key you find inside of it. If we had that power, we would already be gods.

But we’re not. We’re just humans. And one of the strengths of humanity is that we try lots of things to solve our problems. That is one of the ways we move forward. So if you are teaching that everyone not on board with your method to solve a problem is part of the problem because they see value in a different solution? I’ve got news for you: THEY are not part of the problem. Because the problem is YOU! You are the one trying to remove an essential strength from humanity and call it good.

And we don’t need your kind in our midst. We need you to grow up and love humanity the way it is, and the way it always will be.

Come back when you’re ready.