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Status Quo

  • There is a strong conservative instinct in the average man or woman, born of the hereditary fear of life, that prompts them to cling to old standards, or, if too intelligent to look inhospitably upon progress, to move very slowly. Both types are the brakes and wheelhorses necessary to a stable civilization, but history, even current history in the newspapers, would be dull reading if there were no adventurous spirits willing to do battle for new ideas.

  • Constancy, far from being a virtue, seems often to be the besetting sin of the human race, daughter of laziness and self-sufficiency, sister of sleep, the cause of most wars and practically all persecutions.

  • I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression.

  • I come to you with only this straight gaze. / These are not hours of fire but years of praise. / The glass full to the brim, completely full. / But held in balance so no drop can spill.

    • May Sarton,
    • "Because What I Want Most Is Permanence," The Land of Silence ()
  • Too much of our lives corresponds to the 'lost-wallet' theory of life. You lose something, spend a long time finding it, and then feel grateful to be back where you started.

  • It is only in romances that people undergo a sudden metamorphosis. In real life, even after the most terrible experiences, the main character remains exactly the same.

  • The hardest thing to believe when you're young is that people wil fight to stay in a rut, but not to get out of it.

  • ... the only difference between a rut and a grave, as someone had observed before him, is in their dimensions.

  • No, one couldn't make a revolution, one couldn't even start a riot, with sheep that asked only for better browsing.

  • We are pushed forward by the social forces, reluctant and stumbling, our faces over our shoulders, clutching at every relic of the past as we are forced along; still adoring whatever is behind us. We insist upon worshipping 'the God of our fathers.' Why not the God of our children? Does eternity only stretch one way?

  • In business life, that is, in its material processes, we eagerly accept the new. In social life, in all our social processes, we piously, valiantly, obdurately, maintain the old.

  • Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

  • In many ways, constancy is an illusion ... Of any stopping place in life, it is good to ask whether it will be a good place from which to go on as well as a good place to remain.

  • ... most Americans are in deep awe of things-as-they-are. Even with everything this obviously out of control, they still tell themselves that those in authority must know what they are doing, and must be describing our condition to us as it really is; they still take it for granted that somehow what is, what is done, must make sense, can't really be insane. These assumptions exercise a tyranny over their minds.

    • Barbara Deming,
    • "On the Necessity to Liberate Minds," Revolution and Equilibrium ()
  • The facts of this world seen clearly are seen through tears.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written," Selected Poems II: 1976-1986 ()
  • His hatred of her was the hatred of the old for the new, of the traditional for the innovative, of the dying for the living.

  • How can you communicate your thoughts or demonstrate your hypotheses by conventional means when all the values and standards that you want to challenge are built into those means? Science and new technology today like to declare that they encourage 'lateral thinking,' new ways of seeing and putting data together — but all systems have an inbuilt resistance to what has not been programmed into them through the premises on which their rules are based.

  • Modern adults, if they are to be successful in their relationships with modern youth, will have to give up riding in oxcarts and adapt their training methods to a speeded-up society. Some adults refuse to do this. They like oxcarts. Their own parents used oxcarts. It is simpler to use oxcarts.

  • We have had, alas, and still have, the doubtful habit of reverence. Above all, we respect things as they are.

  • ... Tess had never met a rut she didn't like.

  • ... the development of society and culture depends upon a changing balance, maintained between those who innovate and those who conserve the status quo. Relentless, unchecked, and untested innovation would be a nightmare. ... If repetition and rigidity are the dark side of the conservative coin, loyalty and stability are its bright side.

  • Life hath its phases manifold, / Yet still the new repeats the old; / There is no truer truth than this: / What was, is still the thing that is.