Yo, Status Quo
Yesterday we talked about the verb “act” and how action is the only way to make positive change. At this time of year when organizations are beginning the new year with a new slate of officers and leaders, it is most important that we consider what happens when nothing happens, when no real action takes place.
First used in the sixteenth century and often spelled “io”, the term “yo!” gained popularity in twentieth century Philadelphia among Italian-Americans as a greeting. It was, quite simply, a way to get someone’s attention. Robert Louis Stevenson used the slang term in his trilogy about pirates in fact. I use it today in much the same fashion, both to garnet attention and in speaking of those who would rob the future.
“In statu quo res erant ante bellum” was a phrase found in fourteenth century Latin and it was used diplomatically to refer to how things had been prior to the war. Today it is often used to describe the current unpleasant state of affairs but situations not deemed worth the risk of changing. If that sounds complicated, it both is and it isn’t.
Sometimes we accept the current situation even though we do not find it productive or palatable. The effort involved to make necessary changes is risky as are all changes. Fear overcomes our motivation to make the change and so, the status quo remains.
American economist and University of California president Clark Kerr once characterized the status quo as “The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed”. In fact it can be vetoes but not by a mere vote. In order for the status quo to change, one must take action.
If the status quo was really the best course of action, then we would all still be using trees for our restroom facilities, cooking over open fires, and have only that communication that could be heard by yelling or via smoke signals. You would not be reading this blog because the electricity which gives voice to the Internet would not exist.
At some point in time, someone decided to take a chance on change. People took a chance on believing in their ideas and the result were the creature comforts of heat, indoor plumbing, refrigerated food preservation, and worldwide communication in the blink of an eye. For the future to happen, we must move forward.
We cannot keep voting in the same ideas and the same people. We must look beyond our comfort zone and take a leap of faith in order to move ourselves and the world forward. We must look beyond someone’s bank account, the color of their skin or their garb and see their potential and what they can help others achieve.
Simply put, the status quo is the existing state of affairs. Often the status quo is fine…for the time in which it first existed. The thing is that time does not stand still. It keeps ticking forward, propelling us toward our future. Are you along for the ride or have you jumped off and are simply treading water while you go around in circles? Treading water is a great way to stay afloat but you really are not going to be able to do much else and you certainly will not go forward to higher aspirations. Former US President Ronald Reagan defined the status in this remark: “Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’!”
First used as an advertising slogan for Apple, Rob Siltanen’s campaign slogan is a great mantra for this new year 2017 and season of Epiphany. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”