Anthropologists have noted the truth of this essay’s title. However it is not enough to simplify state a truth without looking a little deeper at the internal logic supporting that statement.
A) First, why is some small amount of change desirable? The reasons for a bit of change are the opportunity for new social customs to evolve, the opportunity for new computer and manufacturing techniques to be introduced, the opportunity for things to be looked at differently so that improvements might be introduced while good traditions re-main, etc. Young people need the sense that new doors are opening and there are emerging avenues allowing them to be a bit different than their parents. Of course, in change there is disruption and in disruptions incumbents face the possibility of being displaced, and a degree of displacement and innovation is good. New players may take up positions of leadership. Capital has the opportunity to be put a greater risk perhaps to yield a greater return than the “tried and true”
Of course, there is another category of change were greater caution is required. These changes involve adjustments to attitudes regarding life, death, rights of passage, etc. In other words things that implicate religious belief. For these types of changes much longer time horizons are required.
B) Now the second half of this essay’s title needs attention. Too much change can cause destruction of a society . Here the innovations are too numerous and/or come so quickly such that economic and social systems can not adapt quickly enough to bring the innovation as well as the whole culture into a new stasis or relatively settled condition. But a closer look at certain areas is warranted.
1) IN THE WORK PLACE -
For instance an economic investment made into a new innovation needs the expectation that the new innovation won’t be displaced so quickly that the original investment can’t earn a reasonable rate of return. So there is a practical limit to the pace of change in business that is possible given that investors need a reasonable rate of return. Of course some investment in some innovations will not earn a rate of return, but on average investments must earn returns or all investment in innovation will cease.
Let’s take a look at this innovation situation from a different perspective. When a new innovation comes along people have to learn new skills in order to implement the innovation. If innovators ask people to acquire new skills workers will want some assurance that the innovation will provide an acceptable term of steady employment.
So excessive change can cause financial losses while human beings find careers terminated long before the cost of acquiring the necessary skills are recovered.
2) THE FAMILY AND SOCIETY
On the social side the tempo of change can leave people dazed. For example in the last 50 years society has seen legalized birth control, legalized abortion, no fault divorce, and, more recently, homosexual marriage. What is next? Perhaps polygamists marriage, where does it all end?
Today people change jobs an average of once every 7 years and, oftentimes, new skills and a relocation is required. Think of the dislocations inherent in all this change. The friendships that family members have developed are torn up and new relationships have to be forged. Sometimes such dislocations leave children psychology scarred.
Families increasing locate to big cities hoping that as these inevitable job changes occur there will be enough demand within the large community to absorb the laid off family members. This is done in the hope the children can stay in one school and maintain their friendships. Also, if a job change is unavoidable, the second working spouse doesn’t have to look for a new job in a new location as well.
However, all this stacking up of people in large cities creates lengthy commutes for the working spouses. It is not unusual to find that couples, where both spouses work, spend 15% to 20% of their waking hours commuting.
3) RELIGIOUS PRACTICE -
On the religion front, the cost of this quantity and tempo of change has been particularly harmful. Perhaps, if these social changes had come over say 500 years, society and religion might perhaps have been able to construct alternative social structures and doctrinal interpretations so parents could raise their children in some acceptable, orthodox fashion without having unorthodox behavior being openly displayed to their children in the public square.
How all this change it society in 50 years rather than 500 years is like a series of land mines exploding under a peaceful lane as traditional drivers move along. However is the family SUV going to make it to the other end without scaring or killing the children?
All this brings the anthropologists to the bulwark of any social group’s culture , its religious belief and practice (or as is the case in America, “its faiths”). Faith is the part of culture that can absorb the least amount of change and can absorb that change only at the slowest pace Excess change effecting the religious’ side of a culture can send cracks into the foundation of society; cracks that can bring the whole falling into chaos.
First a little clearing of the American religious underbrush is needed. America was founded by Protestant Christians with a few Jews and Catholics tossed in. These religions have some diversity of belief in the doctrinal areas but possessed very similar standards for outward behavior. This acceptance of standards for moral behavior grew out of mutual use of the Bible. This mutual acceptance of a common standard gave the country near universal acceptance of important practices surrounding marriage, divorce, and child rearing.
However, over time others began to participate in the American body politic; others who used different holy books (e.g. Koran, etc.). More important however were those, who perhaps evolved from the deists that were present at the American founding; These people live with no holy book at all and are called atheists and agnostics by believes, but secular humanists by anthropologists and other social scientists.
Secular Humanists are found in large numbers in the highest reaches of society particularly in academia and the media. They possess little regard for religious doctrines and practices of the middle classes. Thus the society is being led unto very difficult terrain for American society. There has been a breakdown of the consensus on marriage related matters.
With this in mind perhaps it is possible to construct a table which puts an ideal time frame on different types of changes.
Of course, it would be unworkable for government to mandate these time frames, but if the table is widely promoted in the media and in schools people will develop internal alarms when excessive change is being proposed for implementation on an imprudently fast time frame.
In studying the above table it quickly becomes apparent that family related and religion related changes are those which require longer time frames for implementation following its original suggestion. In like fashion, physical change in manufactured items have the shortest time frame. In the middle are changes that effect employment, layoffs, and the acquisition of new skills.
The table is not intended to be complete but only to suggest the overall framework that spells out human society’s ability to accommodate change in different areas of life. ....... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/15/2015)
There is an interesting social experiment being conducted in the American Catholic Church.
This church with 75 to 100 million nominal members in the USA has a doctrine of transubstantiation under which they teach that bread and wine is changed during the Mass into the Body and Blood of Christ retaining only the outward appearance of the bread and wine. They then proceed to distribute these in a fashion reminiscent of a how a kinder garden teacher might distribute vanilla wafers to her students.
There is, as is immediately apparent, a profound subconscious disconnect between the doctrine which holds that the second person of the Blessed Trinity is now physically present among the congregation in the appearance of a host and wine, and the ritual that has people acting as though vanilla wafers are being distributed one at a time to those who line up.
In general it is important that cultures have various outward practices that help to transmit important beliefs and values to the next generation. For instance, putting one’s hand over the heart as the Pledge of Allegiance is recited each morning in school helps to transmit a sense of patriotism to the next generation.
Accordingly, anthropologists, who have studied religious activity in various cultures (past and present), have noted that in successful religions the ritual reinforces the doctrines. Religions where this reinforcements does not exist find themselves losing adherents and falling into oblivion.
Evidently the modern American Catholic Church is running an experiment hoping to show that these anthropologists are wrong. This experiment has been going on for 40 years and results are starting to materialize. A recent poll by Georgetown University shows a sizable majority (about 70%) of young Catholics do not believe in Transubstantiation and, as anthropologists have suggested would happen, only about 20% of this group attend Sunday Mass regularly. As an aside it should be noted that of all those of all ages who attend weekly Mass over 80% believe in the real presence.
So the American Catholic Church has served up to the Anthropological community a very large experiment that seems to prove up the finding that doctrine must be reinforced by ritual practice or the doctrine will lose believers.
The key question in closing is this: “Will the Catholic Church change and require that the faithful give greater respect to the consecrated hosts by their ritual practice?” Probably not because there is a huge psychological investment by Church’s leaders into the current irreverent ritual practice of receiving the host as one might receive a cookie. .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/15/2015)
The electoral college votes mostly by whole states where winner takes all the electoral votes; whereas in Congress only the Senate’s portion of the States’ delegation to Washington is determined on a “statewide” winner take all basis - the house seats are determined on a district by district basis. If the electoral college was handled in every state as it is in Maine, where the electors for the Congressional districts are obligated to follow the preference of their districts rather than that of the whole state, the Presidential elections would be closer and would likely parallel public sentiment more closely
A more important advantage of this system is that it would force both parties to design 50/50 districts rather than the current tendency to design districts that are heavily weighted one way or the other. Why is this so? The White House is such a big plum a party would be willing to say “no” to party incumbents who want safe seats. This they would do in order to get the chance to win more electoral votes by spreading party supporters into a greater number congressional districts.
So will this revised system effect Congress? Yes, because more Congressional districts will be more evenly split between Democrats and Republicans so more moderate politicians will be successful. Extremists will be less successful because the results of one party’s primary election will not automatically dictate the result in the general election. The parties will have to select candidates that have greater appeal to moderates and independents.
Finally, the Presidential candidates would be inclinded to campaign in more states. Consider how few states have an all Democratic or all Republican Congressional delegation, this means it would make sense to campaign everywhere because electoral college votes would be available everywhere, even in states that are heavily Democratic or heavily Republican on a statewide basis. Imagine a Democratic Presidential candidate campaigning in Mississippi while his Republican opponent is campaigning in California. ......... .(prepared by Hugh Murray on 5/22/2015)