The Why of Standards

How do we define standards? What exactly do they mean to our society and the world as a whole? See, the thing about standards is that if they are not observed by everyone to some degree than what would be the point of having them in the first place. Having standards when it comes to behavior, dress, professionalism, ethics, etc. helps society to function and for people to live productive and healthy lives. Without having standards or not being beholden to anyone else will create a society of winner-take-all or every man or every woman for themselves, which is not only counterproductive but also self-destructive in the long run.

As defined by Dictionary.com, A ‘standard’ is defined as “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; or an approved model.” It’s a general definition but you can see that creating a standard requires the consent of the society at large. Standards can be difficult or easy to enforce depending on how popular they are but the total absence of standards in different areas of life should be fought against as much as possible. Everybody has different standards but the key to keep in mind is whether a lack of standards or a complete abandonment of standards is making the local community or overall society worse off as a result.

We don’t think about it but basic standards helps create laws, rules, and regulations that keep society running well. When there are no standards in anything whether its’ with business, politics, dress, the environment, etc. then every individual man, woman, and child will suffer in some regard as a result. Another thing to keep in mind is that a lack of standards or standards that are burdensome and counterproductive also cause harm to us as well.

Standards change over time but there are certain ideals and beliefs that I think should stand the test of time. By this I mean that basic manners and politeness should always be observed, presenting yourself well in your outer dress and appearance depending on the setting is crucial, and that you add with basic integrity, decency, and honesty when doing business or leading as a member of your community. Standards over time for these particular areas should not change and should even become stronger so that the next generations do not forget how to act, behave, and be good.

Standards can be relaxed in a number of areas or they can be hardened in other areas depending upon the mood and whims of the larger society but those areas I listed above should be consistent and not be trifled with. When basic manners, integrity, and matters of presenting become optional rather than mandatory, it’s likely that the entire society will feel the ill effects of such an absence of standards rather quickly. Fundamentally, systemic societal issues such as corruption, violence, and poverty, which while they have a wide range of causes are still related to an absence of moral and behavioral standards.

In a free society, standards can most definitely change and be adapted to fit to the times but it has to be with the approval of the majority of those people in that society. Leaving standards to the whims of a few leaders can be cumbersome and even negligent especially if they themselves due not match the standards for which they should follow based on their leadership roles. Standards are best when they are created, managed, and enforced in a democratic fashion and where the majority of people in that society are able to follow those standards.

While we are all individuals, we are all still apart of a collective society and we have to sometimes sacrifice our personal standards when we come up against those standards of the larger society even when we may fundamentally disagree with them. No standard is perfect but if the society has collectively agreed upon those standards, then all of the people must abide by them to the best of their ability. If the standards are to be changed, that should be done over time with the consent of the majority. Even if we don’t like the standards, if no one agrees to them, then they are not standards anymore and society could suffer as a result.

If you don’t like the absence of certain standards or believe that they are too burdensome on you or people that you know, then you need to make the effort and put in the work to change these standards. If you don’t like with how someone is behaving, then you need to make an informed argument as to how that person should behave in a more polite and decent manner. If you see some form of corruption and certain political leaders are letting it slide, then you need to take some responsibility in holding yourself first to a higher standard and then calling out that corruption to get others behind you so that the corruption may end in the future.

Individuals have power in a society with standards but they will fundamentally have less power in a society where there are weak standards or none at all. That is also the case where one sole individual can set standards for everyone else without so much as a protest from others, which is also dangerous and detrimental to society as a whole.

While standards such as for behavior, dress, professionalism, ethics, etc. may not always be popular to uphold, these standards form the backbone of the collective society. With the absence of any sort of standards comes at the behest of laws, rules, regulations, and principles as well. Standards form the base for a civilized society and in their absence; there is no way that a society of individuals can function at all.

When you read this article, think about your own standards and how they came to be in your thinking. Also, think about how important they are to you. Lastly, think about the current standards of your society and how long it took for them to be formed and implemented as well as how important they also are regardless if you agree with their being in existence or not. Standards are not meant to be popular all the time but they are meant to ensure codes of conduct in various manners of life.

The sheer absence of standards leads to an anarchy of sorts that would render polite society meaningless and turn individuals against each other in a collective free-for-all. Understanding the why of standards will make you more likely to improve and better your own existing ones.

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The Ripple Effect

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Which chocolate will you decide to choose?

Throughout the course of our lives, actions and events occur that we don’t see coming or have little control over. While these small events and actions seem unimportant at the time, their results continue to spread and manifest in changing things about yourself, and your path in life. This is known as the ‘Ripple Effect’, and is often overlooked by certain people who refuse to recognize that actions have consequences and what we say or do now has lasting effects on who we will become in the future.

The most famous example signifying the ‘Ripple Effect’ is when drops of water or other objects, fall into a larger pool of water causing ‘ripples’ to manifest themselves while affecting the initial state and changing its physical makeup. Similar in overall meaning to the ‘Ripple Effect’ is the ‘Butterfly Effect’ and also the ‘Domino Effect’ often cited in sociological terminology.

The older you get, the more you realize that certain things in life are going to be outside your control. Some people refuse to recognize this fact and try to direct and manage everything in life to prevent any surprises, twists, or turns that will come your way. However, this approach is a recipe for disaster because it is a fact that we cannot control everything that happens to us and that it is pointless to try to do so.

I don’t want to turn this into a “Predestination v. Free Will” debate because that is too black and white for a world that has a lot of grey matter. If you had asked me about the concepts ‘Free Will’, ‘Destiny’, and ‘Fate’ when I was ten years younger, I would have said that I have complete control over my life and that my destiny is totally in my hands. At my current age and the older I get, I believe that it is a intertwining mix of destiny and your own will that sees you through both the highs and lows of life.

From my own personal experiences, especially as I enter my mid-20’s, there have been many unexpected occurrences that have changed my life in different ways which would have been unimaginable to me in the past. I never would have thought that I would become an ESL teacher, move overseas and travel to different countries, and change my career path for the time being. There are cities that I have visited, cool experiences that I have had, and lessons that I have learned about life that would not have had happened had I stayed in the same town, kept my first job after college, and not gone out of my way to meet new people, make new friends.

It’s occurred to me now more than ever that we should not plan for everything in the future because the future is not up to us and life can throw unexpected curveballs when we least expect it. Instead of ‘cursing our fate’ and ‘falling into gloom and doom’ about the things we cannot control: (job security, natural disasters, deaths of family and friends), we should make an effort to change what we can control to benefit out lives: (relationships, where we live, and our physical and mental health.)

‘Free Will’ for human beings is limited as is ‘Pre-Destination.’ I would like to believe that I have some control over my life and the direction(s) it can take. However, I cannot change anything about my past and I am limited in what I can do about my future. Do not feel totally helpless about your future because you still have the power of decision-making, reasoning, and foresight, which can help you with your personal and professional goals.

It’s much easier to be angry at the world and to curse about the wrongs that have been committed against you but it won’t do much to make you feel better or to improve your future. Instead of feeling powerless, take charge and do your best with what you have now. Make every day a chance to improve yourself in some way so that your future will be a little bit brighter than before.

Never give up, and if challenges and set-backs come your way, meet them head-on and have the resolve to face them given your previous experiences in life. As was once said famously by the character, Forrest’s mother, in the critically acclaimed film, Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, Forrest, you never know what you’re going to get.” Even if you get a bad chocolate every now and then, there will still be plenty more to choose from.