A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

by Janie Jones

I don’t know whether to go tongue in cheek here, or to be serious.  But I’m getting a little tired of having to toe the party line, whatever party I’m currently at and in the curious position of feeling like I’m crashing instead of belonging.

Seems like every where I go, everything I encounter is a push for change.  And, it applies to the grand tapestry that is the world around me as well as in the microcosm of my own personal life.  Changes abound in the world government, the federal government, in my school, in my friends, in my operating system, in WordPress.

Yes, I noticed.  WordPress changed itself again.

And in all these areas I am told by some unidentified source that I should embrace these changes.  I am told if you don’t change you are a problem, you are a broken cog who can’t see the beauty of the future and it’s Progress.

A long time ago, someone I care about said to me, “If I ask you why you don’t want to change, I don’t ever want to hear, ‘Because that’s how we’ve always done it.'”

He makes a good point, but I always felt that I had to disagree.  Sometimes how we’ve always done things is not a bad way if it works.  Sometimes those old ways, those tried and true ways are what give that fabric of our lives it’s tight weave with all it’s strength, it’s character, it’s warmth.  Sometimes it’s those old ways which give us the resources to be stable, a base from which we can grow and expand and be flexible and change; it’s that uniform, reliable unchanging platform that gives us the security to know if we fall, the net will catch us in stability and reliability.

Life isn’t about stagnation.  It does need change.  But change isn’t always for the best, it isn’t always good, and sometimes changing at the wrong time and making the wrong change is disastrous.  Often it feels like the world just is leap-frogging from one new idea to the next without thought for whether the next leap is going to land in the water or on a lily pad.  I think that change is therefore necessary, but should not be embarked upon lightly or wantonly, but soberly and with ample contemplation for the impact and the outcome of the change.  Does anyone really stop and think about what they are doing anymore?  Or is it just one big glut to be always one-upping everyone else with the next best idea?  Have we just devolved to one big world game of Keep Up With the Joneses?

I feel like there is a foolish consistency in the thought that we should never accept anything as good enough, that we always need to change just because we can.  Changing for no good reason, changing because the popular opinion is if it’s new it must be better, I believe, is just as much a sign of small minds as is never recognizing the need for change at all.

Sometimes the writing is on the wall.  Things break.  They must be fixed.  But, sometimes if it ain’t broke, there is no sense in wasting time and resources reinventing the wheel.

The change we need is not to rush out and invent something new, but to change back to something long ago discarded:  a sense of moderation.  Let’s stop and smell the roses before we genetically modify the snot out of them so they will only ever smell like Aphrodite’s sweat, shall we?

4 Responses to “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”

  1. A former boss would say: “We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel.” and he was right. Going forward doesn’t mean you change everything to the point you’re standing still. That’s the stuff of bureaucrats and people with too much time on their hands.

  2. Hurrah!
    WP keep trying me to move to the ‘improved posting experience’ which doesn’t work so well… I do like to shake things up every so often, but only if it works better!

    • Speccy is right; and so are you. Change for change’s sake isn’t always a good thing. But neither is staying still because, as you said, ‘that’s how we’ve always done it.’ Like everything in life, it’s about finding the right balance.

      The people who most like to change things, of course, are politicians, so they can be seen to be doing something – anything – so they’ll be re-elected. It reminds me of the Politicians’ Creed: If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is.

      A thought-provoking post.


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