In Praise of Mischief

Mischief rarely gets its due. In fact, if it weren’t for mischief, many of us wouldn’t have been born or made the unique contributions to life that we have.

As children, we are punished for making mischief. Our parents and teachers (as well as other authorities) are often desperate to be in compliance with their superiors. Perhaps they are afraid of what gets loosed from mischief. Perhaps it is jealousy that children can still get by with it. Perhaps they have a bit of both.

Mischief is such a universal phenomenon that it makes me think that it is endemic to life itself. And like the previous post on “the ultimate good,” there can be mischief that is good for life and mischief that is anti-life. The kind of mischief worthy of praise, then, would be the kind that promotes life, community, and the flow of information and goods that support life.

Where would this world be without the mischief of the original thirteen US colonies? Or the willingness of merchants and barons to press King John to sign the Magna Carta? Or the mischief of a thousand inventors that saw better ways to supply basic human needs? Or the mischief of social and religious reformers?

Yes, mischief is guaranteed by the US Constitution. For example, it gives us the right to publish the truth, to assemble, to petition the government and hold it accountable. We have the right to stir up the pot where we see bad mischief.  We need mischief in our lives. So, let’s have some praise for mischief.

There is a lot of what I might term “innocent mischief.” It’s the way we express who we are, even though it is not to the liking of those around us. For me, innocent mischief means that I can be my slow, deliberate self and claim it as my personal way of expressing who I am.  It means that I can write my blog, tweet or post on Facebook posing mischievous questions, topics and discussions. It’s just me being my inner mischievous self.

The establishment, to use a popular phrase from the hippies, does not care for mischief. They typically see it as promoting anarchy or tempting fate. So, yes, mischief is a problem for them. Mischief upsets the grip of society’s controllers because it adds elements of unpredictability. They find their work easier with compliant workers, attenders, electorate, etc.

What is your natural, innocent mischief? Have you been stifling it? Have you been in denial of its contributions to life and your community? Would you like to loosen the grip of the authorities? Would you like to feel less bored and more free? Try a little “innocent mischief.” Try praising a little mischief. It may become a new life, like you or me.

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