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The Status Quo

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Where are you great knight who would rescue the faltering empire from the oppressive dragons? Appear great knight, so that by your presence, we may have some hope against the power of the destructors. Unsheathe your sword, and lead the battle that would return our empire to its former greatness. We need our hero—the dragons must be slain.

It is not the medieval monster, conjured by the ignorance of the masses, and propelled into the folk lore of European middle age history, that we fear. Rather, our concern is an incentive killing force that runs rampant over modern day America generally referred to as the status quo, or more simply, the way things are. The status quo is such a large and prevalent force that the most common defense is apathy and inaction. An overwhelming sense of futility engulfs the people who desperately seek relief from the stifling uniformity, but lack the resolve to create change. Meanwhile, the power brokers extract a tribute in the form of self-esteem, idealism, and individuality leaving the pillaged victims empty of spirit, desire and hopes for the future.

The status quo becomes most powerful when it has been entrenched for an extended period of time. It seems that time makes willing servants out of complacent people, thereby extending the power and influence of the status quo. Having enlisted in the establishment, these recruits form an additional layer of support which further strengthens the power of the entrenched sameness. It is this continuous cycle of indifference and compliance which becomes the lifeblood of this malady, and leads to the decline and ultimate destruction of a civilization if left unimpeded.

This strange sickness is not a modern day phenomena. History records the dominance of the disease in every aspect of life throughout the ages. Similar to the medieval dragon, the status quo is sometimes the product of naïve and confused minds, and subsequently becomes linked to conspiracy theories. Unlike the mythical dragon, this conspiracy is real, and requires the radical actions of the creative individualist to restore a progressive balance. The influence of the status quo is found in every aspect of our social and economic lives, and represents a massive challenge to every person spirited enough to defy the way things are. Historically, the prevalence of an entrenched sameness is most prominent in our oldest and largest institutions. As a result, our political system stands out as a prime example of the negative effects of the status quo.

Politically, we are ruled by a very traditional two party system. The two parties regularly attempt to differentiate their platforms and policies in such a manner as to make their goals unique, while simultaneously answering the needs of the constituents. Both political parties have failed abysmally in their attempt at differentiation, and consequently, must resort to negative campaigning in order to promote their candidates and positions. In fact, most voters would be hard pressed to identify specific platforms with specific parties. Suffice it to say that either party’s position can be found in the latest public opinion poll. Leadership and statesmanship have been replaced with charisma. Political distrust is the common denominator of the general public who regularly voice their skepticism by not voting. Citizens register their disdain by regularly refusing tax increases to the ever growing bureaucracies who continue to deliver poor value to the public. Politicians concede with lip sync, while manipulating budgets, trust funds, and verbiage to obtain the cash they claim they need. What would normally be called fraud and extortion is relegated to executive privilege, while the public is fed scapegoats to answer for the crimes. Nowhere is there greater evidence of the negative effects of the status quo! The Democratic and Republican parties have, with impunity, defied the interests of the American people, choosing instead, to perpetuate their own ambitions. Seeking only to placate, they feed a host of mediocre non-issues and selected candidates to the electorate, which in turn produces a controlled, but shallow and ineffective government.

Affirmation of shoddy leadership is abundant. Our economy is in a shambles, as is evidenced by the loss of jobs, bank failures, the housing and mortgage debacle, Wall Street gyrations, an enormous National debt, foreign trade deficits, the declining standard of living, and the collapse of our industrial base. Still, our government persists in telling us that we are in an era of prosperity. The American people, bewildered by the contradictory signals, ride the undulating wave of indifference. They appear content to accept the political gibberish, until their livelihoods become affected by the economic death throes of a Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or any of other declining industrial centers of America. Only Washington D.C. seemingly enjoys the prosperity it espouses. Our leadership, unable to discern the reality of our continuing failures, is frozen in inaction. Such is the negative impact of the status quo, which would deceive us with wishful thoughts of progress, while presiding over the decline of our country’s industry, resource, and people. Americans, mesmerized by the wind song of the politicians, seem powerless to stop the fiasco.

As sad as this scenario is, it is only an illustration of the regressive tendencies of the status quo. Similar examples of the negative impact of this illness are abundant. An issue that hits at Americas’ heart can be found in our large corporations, who for profit, would place our workers on furlough and desert its homeland in favor of foreign made products. These corporations then have the audacity to import their foreign made wares into the United States for consumption. Today, corporate profitability is, too often, a metaphor for future poverty.

And, what of the unions, who fostered and protected the interests of the working man, thereby creating the balance which made Americas’ working people the best paid in the world—only to preside over its decline amid a storm of abuse, fraud and misrepresentation.

The destructive capability of the status quo can be found in many organized religions, who have absconded with the charitable contributions of the faithful, leaving behind a caveat emptor and the hollow promise of salvation.

And, then there is our legal system, which in a rush to protect everybody from everything has filled the statute books with a profusion of laws. These laws have the effect of filling our jails beyond capacity, while introducing us to an ironic type of anarchy which makes criminals out of decent citizens.

So, it is that the status quo displays its insatiable tendency to corrupt, erode and destroy any area of our lives where it is permitted to grow unchallenged. Truly, the status quo is a dragon with many heads!

Contrary as this may sound, the status quo is simultaneously the hope and challenge of a new generation. It seems heroes have a tendency to remain ordinary, until faced with extraordinary circumstance. It is in response to the seemingly impossible that the oblivious challenger seizes the opportunity to make a difference. It is probable that this opportunist, soon to be hero, does not fathom the strength of the opposition. If he did, he would, like his contemporaries, drown in a sea of indifference. But, our hero is different in that he is largely ignorant of the immensity of his task. He remains confident, full of spirit, and highly ambitious. Where others see defeat, ruination, and despair, our hero sees only challenge, opportunity, and a different way. With his unrestrained passion, he will upset the status quo, and will begin a new era of the way things will be. This, then, is the nature of the hero. A great knight, who would oppose the entrenched forces of time, and who would, in victory, establish new hope for the world.

Is this not also the American Dream? Do we not all have this opportunity to challenge the authority and domination of the status quo and in doing so reap the rewards of our efforts? The American Dream and our hope for the future are surely alive and well. A wealth of opportunity surrounds us in politics, government, business, union, law or any other endeavor where the proponents of the status quo have exercised their inefficient and tyrannical dominion. From the humblest of occupations to the steps of the White House, the need for change is our hope for a better life. The opportunity waits only for the defiant dragon slayer to take on the challenge.

I offer a final word of caution before you begin your quest. Today’s champion will become tomorrow’s oppressor, as the dragon slaying hero begins his inevitable metamorphosis into the oppressive dragon. Innovation and creativity gradually succumb to the perpetuating forces of the status quo, thereby becoming the target of some future hero. Such is history—such is progress—such is man—AD INFINITUM----

My book, The Road to the Third World, notes the dire effects of sameness and apathy. The social, political and economic consequences of the excesses of capitalism are lived out in this fictional account of a dysfunctional America!

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