the world as it is is where you start


“This is the world as it is. This is where you start.”
Saul Alinsky


“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”

Gus <Fault in our Stars>


Life is not a wish granting factory. This may sound obvious, but in a world in which the headlines, Instagram, everywhere on social media, shouts success, that success, or a wish, appears easier to grasp than it may actually be. Let me be honest. Wishing doesn’t get you closer to grasping anything.

So if you set wishing off to the side, well, you must be a messy partner with Life. Mix it up a bit. Not just a sophisticated spectator wishing for something. Pragmatically it begins with some facts and truth: this is the world as it is.

To be fair. We currently live in a world in which so many people’s lives are distorted by unjust social realities that we basically have no idea what are truly capable of becoming. So, when you feel this, well, you begin wishing for some things. I tend to believe most of us know that each individual has massive reserves of untapped potential which are often squandered and neglected during the struggle to make a living and conform to social roles that deny individual uniqueness and optimizing potential. So, when you feel like this, well, you begin wishing for some things.

Which leads me to knowledge.

I actually believe seeking knowledge can make some wishes come true. But even knowledge seeking is a bit tricky.


But instant knowledge gratification comes at a price: when practically all answers are a click away, we sometimes stop really valuing the search or the solution. I’m willing to deal with that if it means I can know everything that is known (at least hypothetically – Google’s taking forever to scan every book, and let’s not even TALK about how long it’s taking for them to get me a Wikipedia implant). As far as I’m concerned, if you have access to a Samoa cookie any time you happen to crave one, it’s OK if they’re a tiny bit less delicious than they were when you had to serendipitously stumble across an eight-year-old and wait six weeks for a box of them. But I can’t deny that I treasured my research successes and serendipities much more when they were more difficult.


I fear in our ‘wishful world’ the emphasis is on inquiry <not real knowledge> and it gets confused with knowledge.

  • Inquiring minds do not have to be knowledgeable.
  • Knowledgeable minds are inquiring minds.

In that paradox it is easy to get confused. And in the confusion being inquiring can quickly become your new version of ‘wishing.’ What I mean by that is inquiry, in and of itself a good thing, is kind of like unexplored value. Unexplored value is dormant value. Explored value reveals its true potential. You do need knowledge to make a dent in the world as it is, but that implies using that knowledge. I imagine for today let’s call that “making your wish come true.”


The inquirer has taken the guise of the sophisticated spectator, rather than the messy participant in continuing experiments or even the reverent beholder of great cultural achievements.


But. Yes. You should ask questions. Important questions.

  • Where am I.
  • Am I where I want to be.
  • Why am I here.
  • What, if changed, would open possibilities.

In other words, inquire about the world as it is. But the rubber hits the road with doing something with the answers to those questions. Now. You may wish there were better, easier, answers, but, well, “the world as it is” is kinda stubborn.

Look. I believe everyone is a potential revolutionary. What I mean by that is I believe everyone has the ability to be a revolutionary given the interest to engage. Sometimes you join a revolution or sometimes the revolution is within oneself. From a personal perspective you must ask whether school, community, work, life, etc. produces what we wish humanity to be made of and, if it is not, what we wish and what do we need to change – AND what your place is within that. The reality is many things can change society, but I would argue it always begins in one place – the world as it is and you. You can wish it was different, but “the world as it is” is kinda stubborn.

Wish all you want, but the world ain’t a wish granting factory. Ponder.


The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not obtained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Written by Bruce