It’s scary to live today. There’s a resistance to change, and that resistance is showing up in violent ways. Yet, why are we now so change adverse? The industrial revolution was nearly three hundred years ago. Since that time, it’s been non-stop change. The changes that branched out from that revolution are: the industrial mindset and the alternative mindset.
In essence, what you have us the established – the status quo. And then you have the alternative. Thinkers, creatives, revolutionaries, heretics, those that come along and bring the most disruptive tools they can: ideas. And once an idea is hatched, and if it firmly takes hold, it becomes the new status quo. Perhaps the idea originators are satisfied with that. Perhaps they stop generating original ideas. But someone won’t, that much is certain. Someone won’t settle. Someone will not abide the status quo. For every status quo, there is someone who has an alternative idea.
Generally, and I’d argue that it’s a universal truism, though I’m open to the fact that it may not be, that looking to adhere to a past status quo, once it has been replaced, will not bring with it any positive outcome. Adherents to past systems are often the most dangerous, and not in the form of ideation. Rather, they cling unflinchingly to a system already shown to be obsolete. I’m thinking of course of racism, and the violence and rhetoric of the past week.
Clinging to past perceptions and prejudices is no way to inhabit a current moment. Even with what the status quo is now, it is a time of unrest. Movements are springing up, the products of ideas, with the hopes of unifying. Detractors as well, both with the desire to push ahead, and forge new ground, or with the hope to reinstate old patterns – those former glories.
Occasionally it’s hard to tell the difference. Good salesmen will pitch you what seems like an idea – maybe even a good one. But these flim-flam men and women are just pitching rehashed examples of obsolete former glories. It’s not new. It hasn’t been new for some time.
We understand more about our deficiencies when we’re able to look back. We know that black, white, brown and yellow are equals, not subject to class division, segregation or subjugation. We know that women and men are equals and deserve equitable pay and work opportunities. We know that diversity creates more robust team dynamics, leading to better ideas, and that exposure to arts is as important to developing a young brain as is learning the fundamentals of reading, writing, math and science. We know all these things, and yet our application of this knowledge still lacks universal acceptance.
Old ways are hard to break. Status quo is the norm, and that gets easily hard-wired. Easier to stick to the path than forge a new one. Thankfully, there have always been those uncomfortable with the status quo. And we now live in a time when it’s easier than ever before to forge new territory.
“The new leverage available to everyone means that the status quo is more threatened than ever, and each employee now has the responsibility to change the rules before someone else does. This isn’t about working your way up to the top, or following the rules, and then starting down the path of changing your world. Instead, these innovations are examples of leadership. About one heretic, someone with a vision, who understood the leverage available, who went ahead and changed things.”
-Seth Godin, Tribes
And after all that, I can’t help think of that last speech in The American President. If you haven’t seen it, give it a watch.