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Input vs. Output

We must consume books and art and bits of the universe both sweet and bitter to produce anything of consequence. From birth we’re actively consuming to stay alive and grow, to learn from those who came before us and ultimately to mold ourselves into an active, thinking adult. But we weren’t born to be sponges, we were born to produce.

Input and output go hand-in-hand, but output isn’t guaranteed simply because there was input. We need agency, don’t we, to transform all that input into something resembling output? It’s comfortable always being the student of life, soaking in all that this universe offers. The stakes go up considerably when we put ourselves out there with our own work. To raise our hand and speak up, to offer a new twist, to boldly contribute to the Great Conversation.

If there’s a disease in humanity, amplified in these times, it’s mistaking combativeness and criticism for output. This is “Man in the Arena” territory, where those who don’t do the work feel perfectly fine condemning those who do the work. We ought to collectively have no patience for it and turn the trolls and charlatans away. Yet too many treat the noise as input, and think themselves clever by parroting the same sound bite as their own output. These are empty calories for the brain, and distract us from building.

We don’t need more noise, but we definitely need more insight, more contribution to the critical issues of our time, more solving of problems, and more collaboration and meeting in the middle to find a way forward. We are what we consume, this is true, and we are also what our actions demonstrate we are. We must do better, collectively, with our output.

Input is fine, I suppose, but where are we going with it?

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