Progress Isn’t Finite

My biggest beef about most people is how they keep telling me that we can’t have it any better. That working towards (or even dreaming about) a more collaborative society is a fool’s errand. That such thinking isn’t rooted in reality. That hoping for the kind of societal change I’m hoping for is a valuable waste of (my limited) brainpower. In other words, they are suggesting that progress is finite.

More wrong, they could not be. History has taught us that things can always get better, take music for example. At first, we only had our lungs and mouths to depend on (singing).

Then came the phonograph and people thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then came the record player and people thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then came the 8-track tape and people thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then came the cassette and people thought it couldn’t get any better .

Then came the CD and people thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then came the MP3 and people thought it couldn’t get any better.

We now have HD Audio and I’m sure people think we can’t get any better.

Remember when 720p came out? Then 1080p? Now, 4K and 3D TVs are in the market.

Or how about this: Nokia was once the World’s answer to cell phones till Blackberry took their crown. Then the iPhone was introduced and drove Blackberry to bankruptcy. For the last few years, Android has been top dog and testing Apple’s once innovative culture. Now, Ubuntu is making waves.

NOTE: Nokia was once in the business of making boots, tires, and paper products

In each of those instances, we had a ruling paradigm that people thought couldn’t get any better. And in each of those instances, that ruling paradigm was pushed aside thanks to progress. History has also taught us that this also applies to social progress, albeit, it does not happen as quickly as technology.

The Dark Ages

The Magna Carta

The French Revolution

The end of Western Slavery

Women’s Suffrage

…these are all examples of social progress!

I’m sure that if you spoke to anyone living during those periods they would tell you it can’t get any better. They would’ve probably had that same defeatist attitude that is so ingrained in today’s culture: Hoping for change is a useless exercise OR there’s no point as long as they have theirs.

Granted, it is hard to assume what people hundreds of years ago believed. So perhaps a better example would be to examine the Social Revolution we are currently witnessing.

In the 50s, 60s 70s, and 80s we thought we had the bomb! Phones, cars, television, microwave ovens, and shopping malls! It couldn’t get any better, could it? Then, something happened in the 90s: Technology opened our eyes to other possibilities. A few dove head first to investigate those possibilities while others crossed theirs arms disapprovingly or shook their heads with healthy skepticism. And once more, those Doubting Thomases were proven wrong.

I’ve now spent close to the last 10 years working towards bringing about change in Western society. The kind of change where people celebrate new ideas, instead of tolerating the status quo; The kind of change where people embrace the spirit of collaboration, instead of struggling with the adversarial system.

And what shocks me most is that even though Western Society has experienced ginormous change in the last decade, people still think that what I’m hoping for is impossible. We all need to remember that hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies. I hope that my efforts will help bring about the change our society sorely needs.


Richard PietroRichard Pietro considers himself as an Open Government Fanboy in an attempt to create Civic Engagement as Art. Richard’s Twitter handle is @richardpietro and you can learn more about his work at


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