One of the most insidious and yet least-noticed of our modern myths is the notion that if we communicate clearly enough we can resolve all problems.

In fact there are many classes of problem for which a mutually agreeable resolution is impossible. No self-help book or trite Internet cliche or fervent belief about what “should be” the case will do anything other than reinforce the mistaken belief that somehow, someway, we should all be able to get what we want if we want it enough.

In reality life is complex and not amenable to our myths. I’ve found in my own life that stepping back from implicit assumptions about “how things should be” and looking at the actual dynamics is the only way to determine (a) whether or not my hoped-for outcome is in fact feasible in the real world, and (b) if feasible, then at what cost to ourselves and to those around us.

Much of the time the answers don’t conform to our much-desired myths at all.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.