Entropy's Forgotten Factor

A conversation between Big Simon and Tiny Terror on doing good
Big Simon: Tiny Terror… I’m callin’ you out!
You’re fond of pointing out how we’re fighting a losing battle, how the notions behind the theory of entropy describe a situation in which we are little more than hindrances to a certain outcome. I’d like to take a moment to point out a flaw in that idea.
Entropy is the measure of increased disorder in a closed or isolated system. In a system with no change in variables, chaos is the rule. The common example is that you cannot put the ingredients for a cake mix into a bowl, seal it shut, and expect it to make itself into a cake. Order doesn’t come from nothingnesss – in fact, it’s just the opposite. With no outside force working on those ingredients, the liquids will soak unevenly into the powders, and eventually you’ll just have a big, gloppy mess.
On that point, I think we agree. But that’s as far as your theory seems to go.
What it’s missing is that there is an outside force. Us. People doing good things. I don’t care if you call them “Real Life Superheroes”, “Costumed Activists”, “Crimefighters”, or “Good Samaritans”, these people are the ones who mix up the cake mix, who slide it into the oven and bake the cake, who take it out and frost it, then serve it up to the rest of the world. This force, this human force, doesn’t just consist of people in this movement; it consists of everyone who believes doing good things is right; it’s made up of uncorrupted cops, daring firefighters, brave soldiers, caring nurses, precise doctors, teachers who challenge their students, and students who take their challenge. It’s made up of next-door neighbors, complete strangers, open-source programmers, faithful missionaries, honest politicians (as rare as they might be), lawful judges, and courageous public defenders. It’s the essence of the most positive side of human nature, and it’s real and alive.
The world is a better place than it was two hundred years ago. It’s more complex, not less so. It’s more ordered, not less so. We have better communication and a more widespread understanding and acceptance of our differences. No, we’re not perfect, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been in all of history.
We may never reach that perfect utopia, but we aren’t getting worse, because we’re not a closed, isolated system.
All it takes is a little hope, and a little more action.
Tiny Terror: Don’t head off to Ponderosa just yet, Big Simon. After all, it’s open ’til 10 PM at the very least and although you might miss the lunch buffet, you certainly won’t miss dinner.
Just in case no one gets the joke, Ponderosa is an all-you-can-eat buffet in Pennsylvania.
Ha.
Anywho, I’m aware of my flaw in arguing on behalf of entropy; a flaw I’ve ignored up until this point because no one else seems to be capable of pointing out the fact that we do not exist in a closed-system…Where entropy doesn’t have to be the norm. I can admit that things have gotten a heck of a lot more civilized since our days as mammoth-hunting neanderthals and I can also admit that things have become better regarding levels of violent crime and hate crimes and all of that.
How interesting, however, is it that you’ve gone and proven that the RLSH’s existence is one that is fleeting?
Things are better, A LOT better, than they ever were in the past even if they could stand to make continued leaps forward. And this is a trend that has carried on regardless of you folks doing what you do. The world becoming better does not weigh upon your shoulders so much as it weighs upon everyone and I think the general consensus is that things have not become worse.
And as far as our caring for fellow man goes, it continues to get better.
Innately, we’re driven to sadism and altruism…Although that other side of us exists, we seem to be suppressing it quite well in favor of treating one another with more generosity and kindness than we have displayed in the past.
Yes, I was wrong and flawed in my arguments for entropy. Congratulations on being the first person to either look it up or recognize the flaw first-hand. However, noting the world continues to get better and has continued to get better, showing a trend, does sort of dispute the RLSH’s existence. Why have such a movement if things are getting better?
Big Simon: Just because things are generally getting better doesn’t mean there are pockets and places that couldn’t use a helping hand. We get better, on the whole, because people are inspired by the actions of others. Scientists become scientists because somewhere along the line a teacher really grabbed their interest. Firemen become firemen usually because something – or someone – in their lives convinced them of the need to save, or the raw goodness of saving, lives. Same with paramedics and EMS workers. We may not all stand on the shoulders of giants, but most of us have been given a leg up by someone who provided a catalyst for change, a challenge to be better.
No, the RLSH movement isn’t necessary. But you’re right at one point: It is fleeting. This moment, this tiny chronological span, is the only time it would work. The American entertainment industry has created for us (and the world!) a new mythology, an distinctly American mythology. Superheroes have gone mainstream, due to big-budget films like Iron Man, Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight, and it’s created an environment in which people who wish to stand up for their communities can take on the semblance of the inspirations they had long before the new mythos became a public phenomenon. I won’t say everyone in the movement was inspired by comic books, but a large number, even the majority were, and if they want to do their good deeds dressed like those fictional characters who instilled in them at a young age the desire to to right, now is the perfect time to do so.
But we live in a thirty-second society. We like our McDonald’s. We like our news served up in soundbites and flashes of pre-edited video. We like our short speeches and catchphrases. Nothing holds our attention for long, and the RLSH movement will be the same. It’s fleeting because in twenty years we’ll have stepped it up. Maybe we’ll move to a whole different mythology. Maybe people will see the need to do this sort of thing all the time, and there won’t be a purpose to do it with a costume and a mask. Maybe they just won’t care anymore.
Yes, the RLSH movement is fleeting, in the grand scheme of things. But people inspiring others is not, and that is what is going to be the legacy of the movement, if it’s done right. That is what will be remembered.
Tiny Terror: Mm, fair enough.
Not much I can say in regards to this, save for the fact that I hope you’re right. I hope inspiration is the legacy of the movement.
On the other hand, its legacy could be one of crazy, if not civil-minded people that liked to play dress-up. Make sure that people remember what you were fighting for, not who was fighting.
Other than that, curse you Big Simon, for pointing out the flaws in my argument.
I’ll be back, hasta la vista, foiled again, and all of that other, villainous jazz.
 

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