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They're China's problem now

The Simpsons Movie is of my favourite, which I go back to watching every once in a while. In the movie, when the entire town of Springfield is lynching the Simpsons family after Homer Simpson has brought doom (dome) upon the town by dumping waste in the Springfield lake, the family jumps into the sinkhole in Maggie's sand box and escape out of the dome.

When all the five Simpsons have disappeared into the sinkhole, Chief Wiggum sighs out loud, "They're China's problem now" reiterating the popular belief in among typical Americans that if one digs through the Earth in the US, they are bound to come out on the other side in China.

But more to the point of this post, Chief Wiggum says that to point out that the law-breaking Simpsons are no longer 'his problem' but China's as they have dug their way out of his jurisdiction absolving him of all responsibilities of bringing them to justice.

Another of my all-time favourite movies is The Dark Knight, in which, Batman proves to be the opposite of Chief Wiggum. As the Joker says in the movie, "Batman has no jurisdiction". And Batman proves that by flying out to Hong Kong and bringing back Lau to the US so that he could be tried for his crimes despite him being outside the jurisdiction of US law enforcement authorities, all the way in Hong Kong.

The reason I bring up this contrast is that we see the "They're China's problem now" attitude at the work place quite often. We have teams that focus on covering their own behinds such that even though the eventual result is not positive or even detrimental for the company as a whole, they are happy as long as they can prove that they did their best and that someone else was responsible for the poor performance.

This is understandable behaviour, as evolutionally we have all done that and the different systems in our own body behave in that manner. The reason we crave excess chocolate or lack of exercise is because the parts of the brain that are responsible for short term happiness can achieve their KPIs by coercing us to consuming more chocolate or skipping exercise and say that our overall well-being is the problem of the systems in our brain responsible for our long-term well-being. A clear case of "They're China's problem now".

We all know how things end up in both of those cases.

What we need in our lives is more of Batman and less of Chief Wiggum. Like Batman, we ought to have no jurisdiction. Everything we do, we ought to do to get better.

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