Living In a Status Quo

Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’ ― Ronald Reagan

When we observe, evaluate and analyze Pakistani society, it becomes evident that majority of Pakistanis are living in status quo. The status quo which I am talking about is not the forecast or opinion which is presented on political scenario of Pakistan by commentators, analysts and anchor person discussing and debating in talk shows and news channel with intense affection. It is the psychological and emotional status quo prevailing in our country – a state of mind of millions of people in Pakistan.

Pakistanis are status quo bias that’s why we are emotionally inclined to prefer current state of affairs in our life. The current state in which we are living is taken as reference point and any change from this point is perceived as a loss. This is evident when we prefer things to remain same by doing nothing and therefore we find inaction better than action. We as a nation can take initiative in persistent and alarming water crisis by reducing unnecessary consumption or wastage of water at our homes, workplaces, mosques etc. we can contribute our part in cleanliness of our surrounding by not throwing litter and garbage on roads, open spaces and public places and we can even play our role in reducing trade imbalance of our country by reducing our demands for unnecessary imported products by starting austerity measures from our houses but we don’t.

We have to make choices. Choices are difficult and so we prefer to do nothing and to stick to our current course of action because it is easier and this is what we are doing for decades. We find it easy to blame others than to look inside ourselves, we prefer to wait for others assistance and help than doing ourselves what can be done and we are comfortable in being passive rather than active on important national matters – this is part of our status quo mindset which we find difficult to change.

Change is what we despise the most as a nation because change requires that we come out of our shell of status quo in which we are hiding. One of the most baffling and recalcitrant of the problems which sincere and loyal leaders face during nation building is public resistance to change. Such resistance may take a number of forms—by not playing our part as individuals on national matters, not contributing our share in national development, by avoiding our duties and responsibilities as a citizen, unnecessary political lambasting on important policy issues and step taken, and the expression of a lot of pseudological reasons why the change will not work.

Despite our resistance to change, changes must continually occur in society for progress. This applies with particular force to the all-important changes that must take place—changes in our mindset, in routine procedures and dealings, in daily matters, in personal behavior. No one of these changes makes the headlines, but in total and together they will account enough to put our country on the right path.

We are psychologically a loss aversive nation; we weigh the potential losses of switching from the status quo more heavily than the potential gains. As a result, we prefer to not switch at all. We tend to oppose change unless the benefits outweigh the risks; therefore, we are also incapable of taking risk which is demand of tough times when important decisions are need to be made. We abhor such risky and tough decisions because we are not ready to sacrifice. We don’t want to sacrifice anything of ours for growth and progress; we just want growth and progress. We don’t want to put at risk our way of life, our luxuries, our wants and desires, our peace and calm, our rest – in short we don’t want to take a risk by deviating from status quo.

Every effort result either in success and failure but we focus more on failure than success, we give more weight to chance of failure than chance of success, even when chance of an effort ending either in failure or success is always equal because we are more prone to loss aversion than our affection to gain. So, we find it easy not to act and as people we feel greater regret for bad outcomes that will result from our new actions taken than for bad consequences that are the consequence of our inaction. This is our way of regret avoidance.

We are psychologically immature nation, therefore, we focus on pain from syringe being injected or operation more than the benefits which will result after them in form of cure and relieve. We are unable to bear burden of small present costs today for future benefit and betterment of tomorrow or coming days. This is the same reason that we find imperative and requisite taxes and their increase, ineluctable price hikes and diminishing or abolishing of burdensome and extraneous subsidies repellent and repugnant as a cost to pay today for better future of our country tomorrow. Therefore, we like to remain in status quo as we were before; we find it easy to bear regular misery which we have become habitual in our daily lives than taking some more pain and action to break the vicious circle of our previous status quo.

In the end, the riskiest and most destructive thing we can do is just to maintain the status quo. We cannot effect meaningful change in our society if we become complacent, if we become comfortable with our own positions in the status quo. It is time to bear and accept the cost of our follies and make right what we did wrong for that we have to sacrifice our pleasures and leisure also, it is best option than to remain mentally immature as a nation.

“In short, immaturity is spoiled. And what is spoiled doesn’t ripen. It goes bad early, gets bitter and withers on the vine.” ― Gina Barreca


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