When Kris Kringle gives a toy choo-choo to the Winter Warlock the evil wizard’s heart melts. The ice caging his heart cracks, the winter gale becalms, and the jagged edged sorceror of snow is transformed into a kindly old man.
The Winter Warlock said, “I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart, you know. It’s so difficult to really change.”
Kris Kringle laughed and replied, “Difficult? Why, changing from bad to good is as easy as taking your first step.”
Every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And even if the final direction isn’t clear, the first step in transformation is to break the unconscious bonds of habit and identity that freeze us in place. The Winter Warlock finally realized, when his pattern of wintry wrath was interrupted by Kris Kringle’s gift, that he no longer wanted to be feared but to be a normal human like everyone else.
The alternative is of course to remain stuck in the identity that one chooses. An avid sunbather might become the Heat Miser. A skier might become the Cold Miser. And then refuse in both cases to ever take a different step, to ever consider change, to ever compromise, to ever Observe the effects of one’s own acts. It is no accident that the Heat Miser and Cold Miser remind the viewer of every petty bureaucratic tyrant they have ever had the misfortune of encountering.
And this is, of course, how the US ends up funding LBJ’s great society programs for 40 years while the lives of poor people continually deteriorate, when they had been continually improving for the 40 years before the programs were instituted. It is a failure to Observe the results of the actions. It is a failure to truly see what the programs force people to do, and to confuse perverse incentives with identities.
It is also how the manifest failure of socialized health-care in Canada, Britain, and Cuba is transformed into the media’s glowing and uncritical recommendation to implement the same thing in the United States, when the recommendation is based not on the quality of care available, but on rationing the care equally among everyone without any attention to the patient’s ability or desire to pay for care.
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