How often we have been urged toward progress by the politicians, academicians, and artists among us. We must constantly change, or we die, so we are told. Change is progressive, and therefore, desirable. Tradition is regressive, and so passé. In American society today, we are constantly admonished to “move forward” on all matters, social, political, and cultural.
Do we not need tradition, as well as change? And is change necessarily progress? Some of the most beautiful cities of the world, despite modernity, have managed to retain their old-world charm, at least in part.
“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be.”
Movement toward the future in haste, without regard to the past, is never progress. Neither is movement in the wrong direction. The renowned writer and professor, C.S. Lewis, put it best, perhaps. “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”
More important than progress is the necessity to hold to core values, to be guided by them, or else we lose our way. If change requires us to abandon our core values and cherished traditions that define us as individuals or as a society, then we are lost in a storm of constant change without purpose, the way a ship is lost at sea without a constant star or compass to point the way to the desired destination.
Wise is the one who stands at a crossroads and considers the way.