As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there have been more inventions
in the last 100 years than in the 40.000 years before.
Technology in itself is not necessarily the problem, it’s how humans
use or misuse it, be it iron smelting, nuclear power or the Internet.
However, the pace of change has picked up dramatically. While Rome was
not built in one day, it could easily be destroyed in less than one nowadays.
Not only that, but the increasing potency of technology combined
with human weaknesses empowers an ever decreasing number of people
to potentially exploit and oppress an ever increasing number of people.
In the absence of moral guardians, inequality keeps
rising, resulting in further societal decay.
The philosopher Edmund Burke was right, when he noticed that
“the greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.“
Of course, focussing on yesterday can make sense.
For example, if you’re in the business of writing history books.
Speaking of history books, why is it so hard to learn from history?
“What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments have
never learned anything from history or acted on the principles deduced from it.“
(Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher)
We prefer the known to the unknown, no risks are better than
known risks and known risks are better than unknown ones.
Good is good enough, if we don’t have to disrupt our routine.
In other words, “We’ve always done it this way“ is a great way
to silence the majority and a formidable barrier to change.
It can also be quite dangerous, because, as the psychologist
Daniel Kahneman pointed out, familiarity is not easily
distinguishable from the truth and by frequent repetition,
we can make people believe in falsehoods. Dictators do
this all the time, but they’re far from being alone.
Even worse, it can be quite deadly, as the French knights found
out back in 1415 during the battle of Agincourt, when the longbow,
rather than the knights themselves, brought knighthood to an end.
Yesterday’s realities give us a wrong sense of security.
Think about the meaning of the popular expressions “It’s always
been this way“ or “We’ve always done it this way“.
Well, “expressions“ doesn’t sound quite right, “excuses“ is more like it.
They are obviously wrong and negate evolution,
because there always is a first time.
So what it really means is that our actions and our behavior have
become routine. Our brain has gone on autopilot. We’ve become
conditioned to accept, enjoy and even defend the status-quo.
By cocooning in our routine, we don’t feel the need to change.
We’re prisoners of our conventions, standards and
customs who love progress, but hate change.
Don’t you sometimes wonder, why Pavlov used dogs in his experiments?
Corporate lingo is full of similar statements.
One that I encountered quite often is “It goes without saying“.
Needless to say that more often than not, it doesn’t!
Not to mention “Never change a winning team“.
Sure, but we live in a world, in which the game changes all the time.