Friday, December 15, 2006

Avoid habitual ruts or become living history

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
- Oscar Wilde, Irish-born English writer (1854–1900)

Oscar Wilde is not someone whose life most of us would want to emulate. Among other interesting characteristics, he was considered a rebel because he disliked habits that were unsupportable logically, laws that were prejudicial and anything that smacked of sameness.

Why was he such a rebellious personality? Didn't that make him anti-social?

Wilde's rebelliousness should have been applauded, rather than condemned as it was. He advocated exactly the kind of thinking which made humans so successful at being able to adapt to any environmental conditions in any climate on earth.He was an evolutionary superstar.

Darwin said not that the fittest would survive (which has been misattributed to him), but that those that are most adaptable to changing conditions will survive and thrive. Humans, along with the other social species on earth, have been among the most adaptable, thus the ones that may be seen all over the planet.

Consistency, as Wilde saw it, is not just an unwelcome characteristic, it's harmful in terms of our ability to survive as a species. Remaining the same means that when changes occur around us, we will not be prepared, thus will not likely survive. The best example of an inability to adapt would be the dinosaurs that died out when they could not adapt to new food sources when their traditional ones disappeared after the great cataclysm 65 million years ago.

In order to be ready to face life on terms that would be advantageous to us, we need to be prepared for life to change around us when we awake each day, then to adapt to the new conditions. If little changed overnight, then that gives us more time to prepare ourselves for the next changes.

We can't stop change. We can't make conditions revert to what they once were. Some politicians and religious leaders would like to make us believe that we could if we tried hard enough, but there is no evidence that it has ever happened in history or that it is even possible. Change is the law of nature.

We need to be ready. People die unexpectedly. Jobs can disappear quickly. Investments that looked secure yesterday could be junk later today. Our home could become contaminated by attack from an unexpected source. Our home could burn down. Our air could become poisonous due to a chemical leak. An earthquake could destroy our community. We or one of our loved ones could be struck with a disability or a crippling disease.

This doesn't mean that we should not take our lives seriously. It does mean we need to be able to "move on."

We can look back with fondness at the good things and good times we had. But we need to have the ability to make new ones, no matter what variables are thrown our way.

Consistency means being able to make the best use to the present. We also need to be able to change when the present becomes the past. If we do not change with the times and conditions, we become part of history. That's what history is.

There are some things we can change about the future. We need to know what they are and to work toward changing them to improve our own future.

Or we will become dinosaurs.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to teach how the future can be clearer and better if we stop muddying the present.
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