Across the political spectrum we are accustomed to hearing the idea of innovation as the hope of our economic future and well being. Innovation, or the spirit and inspiration which fosters newness, is heralded by the left and the right. Politicians all routinely point to the innovative nature of their constituents to attract investment and businesses. Innovation is the genius that makes capitalism work. It is perhaps the prominent driver of American economic prosperity.
This undying respect for technological change and the atypical, non-conformist kind of thinking that necessarily precedes it is not mirrored in how we often deal with other aspects of our society. In many areas besides technology, innovation is actually a dirty word. I am sure you know where I am headed with this.
In politics and our public institutions we are completely hamstrung on the issue of change and innovative thinking. We routinely are led to believe that some founding documents from a couple centuries back will be our necessary guide and constraint from now to eternity. Even more stifling is the contention that these documents must be viewed and interpreted exactly as they were two hundred years ago. In other words, they have zero elasticity, no possibility of even being applied differently now than then. Zero growth in knowledge allowed. Zero chance for constructive change. A complete denial of innovation as a positive force.
The second area, where the very word innovation is expressly said to be dangerous, is religion. Supposedly 2000 years ago, a group of wise men figured it all out and codified the will of God correctly and to change any of that will send us all to Hell.
There must be principles that are unchanging and eternally valid, but I see scant evidence that a little thinking outside the box wouldn’t greatly improve both our government and our national religion.