31 August 2005

A Theoretical Question

On a scale of 1 (the world is populated only by members of the Bush family) to 100, how talented is Puerto Rico? More precisely, on a scale of 1 (see above) to 100, how talented are the people of the island of Puerto Rico?

The Jenius will further define the point to actual, demonstrable talent, not potential talent. Potential talent, like a politician's worth, is a theoretical concept and one must always allow for the possibility of existence up to the infinite. (Yes...sigh...even for a Fool.)

You have your answer. Here's Mine: 25.

From a conversation with the all-too-often mentioned Kevin Shockey, The Jenius had this sense of trying to--in some fashion--provide a numerical construct for a basically immeasurable concept. But once the question was formulated, the number answer was clear: 25.

Taken in one way, one could assume that the number is in some way a percentage and that 25% of the roughly 4 million persons on the Island are "talented." Clearly, that ain't right (and yes, The Jenius is aware some of the 4 million are not strictly Puerto Rican. Point noted.) The problem, if there is one, lies in the slipperiness of defining "talent," but The Jenius posed the question and will answer it not based on any particular definition of talent, but on the concept of "talent in action". (Note: This entire premise is altogether too vague. Go with it, humor Me, let it take you where it may. The goal is a discussion, not a debate on semantics.)

So 25 it is. It could mean that of Our theoretical limit, 25 is the score similar to the point on a sloped line: of the total distance/height, We have reached point "25". Whether percentage or graphic, 25 is not anything to crow about. And it may seem to some of you to be a denial of what The Jenius has stated before via a vis Our Talent. Rest assured, it denies nothing stated here before. It merely reflects the notion that what We have is less than what We need/deserve, a consistent theme in these posts.

Whether you agree or not, The Jenius sees a problem with enormous upside: there is plenty of room for improvement. That verbal statement would elicit more nods than shakes of the head. To baldly state 25 when ego, pride, jingoism or a tendency to deny reality would mandate a number at least in the high 60s-low 70s is akin to a gentle, maybe even not-so-gentle slap in the Face of Us.

So be it. Although that was not The Jenius' intention, it could be taken that way. But think of the impact of a vaguely-posed question with a low number attached to it versus the hundreds--thousands--of words written here on the same subject. That a 25 could have caused a bigger stir in some people's minds as compared to reasoned, impassioned argument says something interesting about the way Our minds work. Or don't.

You might even want to ask your co-workers, friends, neigbors, children, parents, long-lost cousins twice-removed who live in a wooden shack and drive a late-model SUV this same question: On a scale of 1 (the pits) to 100, how talented are the people of the island of Puerto Rico?

The answers may or may not surprise you. But don't ask a Fool. He or she would immediately say a very high number (100, most likely) just to show their "Puerto Rican-ness". Answering a question you do not understand with a response you cannot defend even if your brain quadrupled in size and was connected to the Internet is simply a waste of time. Spare yourself. Spare Us. But ponder what this question could mean and what We can do about it. It may turn out to be more fundamental and crucial to Our Future than We can imagine.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


James said...

Ah, Gil, the fool would not answer 100.

The fool, without skipping a beat, would wipe his mouth and wag a finger hacia Louisiana, "Look how they are. Things are bad other places. There is worse. Why do you always criticize Puerto Rico. You are not so perfect," they would say, pleased with themselves knee deep in shit, but blissfully happy that others are in it up to their chests - confident in their plausible deniability.

So content, they will trudge trudge trudge along, accustomed to the stench and happy they have knee high boots.

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