The round peg in a square hole in a round peg

We all have a vague feeling that the world’s messed up. This feeling trickles into the everyday life of jobs, schools, families, and social communities. And each of these places has something called a status quo. Status quo is the existing state of the place. Your workplace calls the status quo culture; your schools called it rules; my Dad calls the status quo at home dharma.

The status quo of the world-at-large seems to be: “something’s wrong!”

A status quo is only as rational as the people that shape it. No single person is responsible for the status quo. It’s a slow sediment of thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Over time the status-quo fossilizes into the foundation that helps shape more decisions and beliefs.

The status-quo of the 20th century may sound incredulous now. The gender inequity, beliefs, and ideologies of the time make us wince. It took struggle and sacrifice at the grandest bloody scale to change that and arrive at where we are now. This, in large part, happened because of people that challenged the status quo.

At the end of the 20th century, Apple launched the Think Different campaign. In it were the lines, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them…”

What better way to enter a century of technology & tranquil (so far). It was great for Apple. After the campaign, Apple was unstoppable going on to become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

So, challenging the status quo gained popularity. Everywhere we went, we sniffed around for the status quo. Fossilized ideas were replaced with fresh, new perspectives. The culture, the rules, and the Dharma changed in quick time.

Soon, everyone wanted to be involved. Challenging the status quo was no more about curiosity, discovering something new and realizing change. It was becoming some sort of a heroic rescue mission where heroism took precedence. It went from a different way of thinking to a stubborn, ignorant rebellion. And this is the war we are fighting at the moment. This is one of the reasons we feel something’s surely but vaguely wrong with the world and it’s up to you to change it. 

Questioning the status quo has become the status quo.

We go through three broad stages of questioning growing up:

Stage 1: Dumb-shit – Is the elephant rhinoceros? Why is my Birthday pink?
Stage 2: Curiosity – What do elephants eat? Why should Dad work?

Stage 3: You-are-on-your-own-from-here – When is a good time to tell my friends I like Justin Bieber? How do I clear the search history without making it obvious that I cleared the search history?

In the adult status-quo game, a lot of us are still at stage 1. We are asking questions just to see the scandalous look on people’s faces. Our idea of disruption is perverse. We are nothing quite like the crazy ones. We are more like the kid that goes to everyone’s house and leaves the place looking like it was just hit by a category 5 hurricane.

Not respecting the status-quo doesn’t mean pissing all over it. It means you don’t let it limit your thinking (Stage 2) and your ability to look for answers on your own (stage 3).

The difference between the curious questioner and the dirty disruptor is that the curious one uses answers to further his/her understanding of the status-quo and identify parts of it that need a change. He/she then works toward that change and shows everyone involved what’s possible. The disruptor uses the answers just to ask more questions just to somehow arrive at the conclusion that the existing status-quo is messed up and everyone inside it a complete moron.

While one tries to change the status quo by developing a healthy understanding of it, the other tries to change the status quo by thrashing it unconscious. While one person makes history and is open to change, the other starts cults and, ironically, prevents anyone from challenging the new-found status quo.

Is it okay to not ask questions sometimes?


Maybe we just need to find better answers within the existing status-quo. If every status-quo needed change, that just means we are on an infinite regress of questions without ever pausing to find good answers. Think different. Be crazy. Piss under a coconut tree. But do it from a place of understanding, curiosity, and appropriateness. If not, they won’t even bother to vilify you. They’ll ignore you!

As every teacher out there almost said, “There are no stupid questions. Only really annoying people.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s