The status quo test

Cambridge, where I live, is like most places: propose a change, and you get a lot of meetings where people denounce it.  A new building, a new bike path, a new field house--whatever it is, they're against it. There are some reasons for this. Our town is dense, and each new structure is larger than what it is replacing.

But the rhetoric does get...overheated. When there was discussion of building some structure at Fresh Pond Reservation, someone described Fresh Pond as "Cambridge's Yosemite".  I guess, in the same sense that Joe Sent Me, the bar I like to drink at with my friends, is Cambridge's Mermaid Tavern, and I its little Willie Shakespeare.

This is the thought experiment I perform whenever trying to parse out such changes:  what if what is being proposed were the status quo, and the current status quo what is being proposed?  Would you tear down that apartment building so there could be a parking lot?  Would remove those nicely drained paths from Fresh Pond?  And I love Fresh Pond--the first part of my first novel, Carve the Sky, is set there, in the far future.

And sometimes, sure, you'd go right back, tear that hideous apartment building down and put up a battered old house, throw that piece of "public art" back into cauldron it was poured from.

But you have to shake yourself free from status quo bias. Next time a change affronts you, try this thought experiment to see if it's really the quality of the change, or just that it is change at all.