David Hines
December 27, 2012
Shifting into the sheer
By David Hines

The turn of the year is a time of traditions. One is that many government laws and regulations take effect. This year the talk has been about the dreaded "fiscal cliff," as if the problems suddenly appeared and hadn't been developing for decades.

Another tradition is the New Year's Resolution. People start out with high hopes that what they didn't change about themselves last year, they will this year. Most resolutions don't last days, let alone weeks. "The sheer" quickly mimics "lash cheer"; reform is deferred until "necks cheer."

We are creatures of habit. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Habits are what worked for us in the past. If we had to constantly think about every action of every day, we would have no time for any further development; each day would be a maze of baffling tasks. Alzheimer's wouldn't be considered quite such an anomaly.

It's during "black swan events" that habits become most destructive. Conditions change, but our adaptations to them don't. There is a strong desire to return to the status quo ante, though that status quo is no longer tenable. In such cases psychic homeostasis is not our friend.

Black swan events necessitate a paradigm shift. The world never looks quite the same. The alcoholic who hits rock bottom changes his thinking about virtually everything if he's going to get sober. The executive whose business plan has been obviated by changing conditions will not see the market the same way; if his view doesn't change, he goes broke.

Even when the black swan appears, the tendency is always toward homeostasis. Voters seek a return to conditions that ceased to exist decades ago. Many want the status quo of steadily increasing government spending — the "baseline budget." Analysts want a return of economic indicators to a particular range of numbers with which they were once familiar. Congress formerly enacted sequestration, in order to avoid a paradigm change for the time being. Now that their enacted sequestration is imminent, they seek a compromise to evade it, and avoid a paradigm shift once again.

We humans heroically resist changing our thinking. People find easy excuses to put off that resolve until tomorrow. But procrastination — not deciding — is a decision itself, with consequences. In the public realm, for example, to keep numbers such as unemployment within range and government spending on its customary trajectory, quantitative easing (money printing) to infinity creates its own problems — its own threats to the status quo.

Why are new year resolutions so ephemeral? Habits die hard; without a shift in thinking they seldom die at all. Resolutions usually seek to change only one thing, leaving all else in stasis. The old, undesired habit is part and parcel of the old way of thinking. Without a paradigm shift — a fresh approach to the world — the undesirable behavior shall re-emerge.

Change is eternal. It's imagined stasis that is alien to the real world. We need not embrace change for its own sake, but reason demands that we view change with a bit of savoir faire, not with fear and trepidation.

© David Hines

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

Subscribe

Receive future articles by David Hines: Click here

Latest articles

 

Alan Keyes
'A Bucket Brigade': The most simple, feasible way to take back America!

Stephen Stone
Will Obama be impeached now that Republicans control both houses of Congress?

Wes Vernon
BOOK REVIEW: 'Hollywood Traitors'

Bryan Fischer
Justice Roy Moore strikes a major blow against judicial tyranny

Jerry Newcombe
How is calling for national revival "controversial"?

Michael Bresciani
Abortion is still genocide -- not a social issue

Selwyn Duke
The Northeast nanny-staters who are and the blizzard that never was

Alan Caruba
An Auschwitz anniversary

Curtis Dahlgren
The Trouble with Tolerance: Myopia on the way to Utopia (the whole 9 yards)

Gina Miller
Daily Beast lies: American Family Association is "hate group"

Rev. Austin Miles
D.A. refuses to toss fabricated case against minister

Judie Brown
'Volunteering' to die

Ellis Washington
Solidarity with Jews

Tim Dunkin
Principles of constitutionalism: virtue as the basis of good government
  More columns

Cartoons


Michael Ramirez

RSS feeds

News:
Columns:

Columnists

Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Bonnie Alba
Jamie Freeze Baird
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites