Most people thrive only inside a stable culture. This fact is particularly apparent to me this week as our company experiences the effects of a massive reorganization. People desperately want to be working in an environment that is known and stable and reliable, even if it is not particularly amenable to them individually. In the same vein, people live with oppressive governments because, in spite of their faults, the rules are well-known and they are stable.
I am beginning to conclude that people are made for stability; that it is a characteristic we as a species were made for. God is a God of great order and made a world that has tremendous diversity inside high stability. (I am also learning to type on one of these funky split keyboards and it forces me to use the correct hand when I type various characters - like "B" - which I usually do with the wrong hand.)
People have a great capacity to ignore upheaval in the world around them in order to carry on with their daily lives. I see it here at work during this re-org and I see it in the lives of people who live through war. Something amazing happened in Britain during the blitz – the people kept doing their lives. We have marveled at their resiliency, but I am beginning to suspect that, more than anything, they were acting very human. We do not handle chaos very well, we tend toward stability of some kind, even if it is personally very costly, even if we would individually have more freedom in slightly more anarchic conditions. I suspect that is why many have derisively concluded that freedom scares many people. The jury – in my mind anyway – is still out on the question of whether or not that is a characteristic that deserves scorn, but I do think it is undoubtedly true that we prefer the stability of slavery to the chaos of freedom. Or at least the perceived chaos of freedom.
Perhaps that is part of the challenge – to create an environment that is both free and stable. I suspect the founding fathers understood this need of man very well, for we see them constantly working to create environments that were stable AND free. Most governments tend towards control and stability at the expense of freedom, a few try freedom without regard for control and this makes people very uncomfortable. I can begin to have an appreciation for people who trade freedom for stability, although I still think it is a bad trade. Most people are not capable of working with a rolling deck under their feet. As I get older and lose some of my adventurous spirit, the lure of stability becomes stronger. I must never give in to the siren song of stability at the price of freedom. The two are not antithetical, but it takes a great leader to provide both. In today’s business climate, people are probably prone to go with control and stability because freedom is so scary. Enron and WorldCom look like too much freedom, but that is only true if you believe that freedom and stability are antithetical.
God created a world order that is both free and stable. And that's the kind of world I prefer.