Creative achievements – suggestions of valid alternatives or changes – often elicit hostile rejection from people who defend the status quo or enthusiastic support from those who champion change. Though defending the status quo is important, it’s at least equally important to understand why we should avoid carelessly denigrating creative achievements. Here’s why.
The world around us constantly changes. Thus, what works – our rules, traditions, and social institutions – is in eternal danger to stop working. If a rule stops working then whatever the rule protected us from will likely resurface with potentially disastrous consequences. Likewise, if an institution stops working it can become corrupt and authoritarian with similar results.
Thus, when what worked stops working, a difficult balancing act must be undertaken: what worked before must be changed and update to solve new problems. At the same time, it must remain sufficiently intact to still solve the problem it was originally designed to solve. Creative achievements are solutions that solve this conundrum for the benefit of all.
Thus, while changing what works is often dangerous, it’s sometimes necessary. To differentiate between what needs changing, how much it needs to be changed, and how it can be changed while keeping its original problem-solving capability intact is tricky indeed. But to know that this is often necessary is vital, too. It allows us to treat creative achievement with respect and not carelessly denigrate it, even when we are tempted to do so.
Rule 1 in "Beyond Order" by Jordan B. Peterson inspired this post. ↩︎