For most of human history, people haven’t believed that the world changes very much, or that change is ever very good. Stability and security have been the ideals. News used to spread slowly, technology hardly evolved, few people ever travelled and trades were handed down from generation to generation.
But today, all that has changed. Most people regard profound, widespread and frequent change as inescapable and a good thing too. Change is now strongly associated with progress. A dominant picture has evolved of what the properly modern person is supposed to be like: someone who not only accepts change but who seeks it out, embraces it, drives it. When Steve Jobs wanted to convince John Sculley, president of Pepsi-Cola, to become CEO of the (then) much smaller Apple – he is reported as having asked him: ‘Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?’
The word ‘change’, in that famous phrase, has a powerful resonance. To change the world, Jobs seemed to be implying, is the most important, most admirable and most worthwhile thing a person can do with their life. And yet, the logical question – why is this change meant to be so important – does not get much of a look in.