How can we innovate our society, while its role is to protect the status quo?
There is this paradox: governments, business and individuals need to change, but are programmed not to change.
What is the oath of government officials? To serve and protect. They are simply not trained to drive disruption. On the contrary they are trained to prevent disruption. So, the need for innovating the underlying systems of society doesn’t match with their DNA.
Our system of government, of administering justice, of national education, and our whole social and moral organization, remains in a state of barbarism. ~ Alfred Russel Wallace 1869
You might be surprised that I mention a lack of innovation on the part of business. Yes, there is a lot of improvement that they call innovation. But real game-changing initiatives are scarce. CEO’s are trained by the stock exchange to meet their growth numbers. This means that they do everything not to jeopardize their existing business and revenue streams. Think about fossil fuel companies that are not willing to give up their cash cow. How many companies are willing to take back their polluting outsourced manufacturing in developing countries?
Individuals are only willing to change their behavior when they are with their backs against the wall. And even then, a lot of change is not sustained. Think about people who had a heart attack and still keep smoking after the incident. People are educated to obey, they are not supposed to take initiative. They need to take responsibility while they are trained to be lazy. They need to consume less while governments and business are propagating more consumption.
Whether it be for the environment, one’s health, or other important causes, convincing people to adopt new or uncommon behaviors is difficult. The main reason is that societal norms powerfully reinforce the status quo.
- Real economic, social, and environmental change requires changing the operating systems that dominate the world.
- Real personal change requires re-education.
- Real innovation requires collaboration and integration.
So, we need change and innovation, but the underlying drivers are prohibiting this.
It is therefor that we, concerned citizens, need to work on change from the grassroots up. It is our society, it is our future that is at stake.
If we do nothing …….. well, you know the answer.