Stop the Ninnies

By Jean Dodal ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jean Dodal ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We have come to a time when humanity is, again, about to allow its hubris to undo its success. A large and growing element in the economically privileged set—which is everyone living above $20 per day—believes they can live pain free. Parents put helmets on children in strollers (not kidding). I guess they fear meteorites or exceptionally hard bird poop, who knows?

My own alumni association canceled a traditional torchlight parade where we chant and sling pornographic labels against our arch rival and generally have a lot of beer-drinking, Autumn fun. It is the kind of campus/city/tribal thing that brings people together. Why would anyone cancel that? Because some committee thought that a torch-lit parade might cause someone to think the Ku Klux Klan was marching. This is about as likely as someone thinking the town was after Herr Frankenstein.


The next coup is not from the far right or left, it’s from the ninnies. These are the do-nothing, ornately fearful class of people who believe their calling in life is to make a rule to prevent anything bad that might happen. They put “CAUTION HOT” warning labels on coffee cups as though no one could figure that out with a bare hand, much less one, tiny sip. They make everything cost more and illegalize fun things like tree-climbing in city parks, Halloween, and Christmas lights (again, not kidding). Ultimately, they are the enemies of the most effective survival, advancement, and innovation tool humanity has ever created: personal responsibility.

They believe we can usher in a new, painless age where children never skin knees, no one is embarrassed or offended, and all negative emotions disappear into a rainbow sunset. No one is responsible for themselves; the rules prevent bad things from happening. This is absurd naivete--foolishness at a most demotivating level.

Are ninnies are so economically secure that they have nothing else to do but ruin life for the rest of us? Their lives certainly do not require that they work at anything meaningful. We can find not one human innovation attributed to a ninnie.

The pain of failure is not an enemy to be tamed. Humans learn from failure and pain and not much else. Humanity has not once progressed by wearing more crash protection. We make progress by wearing none at all; by putting our ideas forward, trying, failing, regrouping, and trying again.

We do not learn unless we score the test, grade the paper, disagree, take our lumps, and lose a few. Pain is a tremendous motivator. If we remove it, we remove humanity’s best educational tool.

Guess what? Without pain, you have zero customers. Your job exists only to solve a problem that exists, not one that might exist. 

I tell you this because you can stand against this nonsense. In your home, school, neighborhood, workplace, make it easier to learn by maintaining failure as an option. Do not hide the fact that someone wins and someone loses—glorify it! Do not limit innovation by limiting the pain that failure brings. Make failing loud and make problem solving louder.