I am remiss. I was so intent on honoring the staid and uncool but ultimately essential COGs that I left out the more colorful elements of my unified field theory of everything. I planned on expounding further when I got around to it. But the more specifically I describe COGs the more folks I exclude and the thinner the ice upon which I’m skating. I’d better add some details before I get myself in trouble.
First of all I’d like to say that I don’t fit the COG profile. I just can’t blend in. I fucking swear. I ride a motorcycle. I hang out in the wilderness. I’m armed to the teeth. I have a homestead. I spent too long in college, don’t watch TV, and don’t subscribe to Readers Digest (that’s in a future COG post). I think Bush was a twit and Obama is a man-child. (So much for the two parties which dominate 99% of politics.) I prefer the company of my tractor to just about everyone…and my tractor is broke. I spent all morning repairing my chicken coop and now I’m using a laptop in a rural diner where a cell phone is considered pretentious. Most of the people in the diner are discussing the corn harvest and weather. They fit together; they’re a community and they’re COGs. I’m a loner and I don’t fit in. I’m not a COG.
But that doesn’t necessarily assign me membership in the hordes of useless jackoffs that we disdain. Being a non-COG has no meaning until you ponder the next statement:
“An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.”
(Yeah, I stole that from Ayn Rand. Why not? I still think she got too excited about “captains of industry” and needed an editor with a meat cleaver.)
Trust fund losers, community organizers, lifelong politicians, and their like consume more than they produce. They’re a net loss to society. They are below COG. Society can only tolerate so many of them. I’m not alone in fearing they’re overloading the whole shebang.
The other side of the spectrum is beyond COG. These are non-COG folks that pull their own weight and also deliberately choose to live in ways that are extreme, unusual, or interesting. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I think a lot of my readers belong there. I like to think I belong there too. (But I may be biased.)
There are a lot of groups that are beyond COGs. Most of which are delightful and vibrant. They’re interesting and positive elements in my unified field theory of humanity (patent pending, your mileage may vary, take only as directed). I’m glad we have them.
Lets start with groups that took a good look at modern society and decided withdraw and play a different game. One example might be the Amish. They’re quiet, law abiding, and produce more than they consume. Does that make them part of the big boring population of COGs? Nope. They’re rare, esoteric, and they’re never going to be a big portion of America’s population. Yet they’re good for us. They’re preserving a way of life and certain important technologies (ironic no?). Their very presence is a spiritual buffer. We’re better off with them than without them. Collectively they’re a storehouse of knowledge. A support in time of need. A spiritual lightness in the atmosphere. They help hold up society even as they don’t play the same game. These folks buttress society.
Other folks who are beyond COGs deliberately light the path so others can find their way beyond. Aggregates of geeky open source software programmers freed my laptop from Windows. (Thank you so much!) Heritage seed collectors offer alternatives to Burpee’s hybrid tomatoes. Home schoolers raise whiz kids that embarrass the heck out of terminally mediocre public schools. The TEA Party makes the two main political parties lose sleep in their sleazy conjugal bed. Folks like this are lighthouses. They’re all over the Internet; giving advice about guns, homesteads, how to live free of regulation, how to do whatever it is that they’ve done to go beyond. I turn to their advice all the time. I’m thankful they’re there.
Others see what the rest of us cannot and make the impossible happen. Thus improving the lot of mankind. Henry Ford took a look at millionaires toying with gorgeous but overpriced Stanley Steamers and made the cheap ugly Model T that farmers could afford. Edison’s lights let adults stay up past sunset. Marconi made free music come from a box.* Norman Borlaug fed more humans than any man in all of history. These are catalysts.
So there you have it. Buttress, lighthouse, and catalyst; three ways you can be a non-COG without being a trust fund douche bag. There are other options I haven’t mentioned yet. As many paths as there are people who deliberately choose their way. Just because you’re not a COG, don’t assume I think the worst.
* No, I don’t consider iDevices the kind of miracles radio was! Jobs could really rock a turtleneck but put it in perspective. Marconi did something that was limited to wizards and legend before his time. Jobs made a Wurlitzer portable. (Also Tesla was a genius but he was more of mad scientist than a catalyst.)