Once, at a business seminar, the speaker stressed that the only constant we can rely on is change (a bit disturbing to most of the “invested” business audience; change is such a hassle, sigh). That was during the heyday of disruptive innovation, primarily the personal computer which was eating the big mainframe guys’ lunch but also videos, CD’s, self serve, a plethora of cars from Japan, etc. It wasn’t called “disruptive innovation” then (though it was change, and disruptive to most), just sound business advice from savvy successful entrepreneurs.

A recent exchange in the online Newark Advocate commentaries (re; an article about Walmart defending its employees’ soliciting for contributions to afford a decent T day) reminded me of that. The main imbroglio was between a “liberal” point of view (Walmart should more equitably share their success with those who helped achieve it) and the ready-made answer given by a “conservative” (no one is forcing the employee to take a job there). The New Oxford American dictionary gives “a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics” as the definition of conservative. Wiktionary gives about the same, but shorter: “A person who favors maintenance of the status quo or reversion to some earlier status”. NOA defines “liberal” as a person of liberal views (obvious to say the least!). Liberal as an adjective is defined variously. “open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values” is the first given. Wiktionary is only a tad better: “One with liberal views, supporting individual liberty”. That same day AP ran a couple of quickie articles, “How many nuts should you eat for your health?” and “Study ties nuts to lower cancer, heart death risk.” In fact the former article even states “Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease, in fact, were less likely to die of any cause during a 30-year Harvard study.” (Eureka!). To pollinate the almond crop in early spring (next to marijuana, the most lucrative agricultural cash crop in California) now requires over half the bee hives existing in America. Last year, the migrant commercial beekeepers who supply the bees for pollination fell short in meeting this demand. Not that there was suddenly an overabundance of almond trees. Rather, there is a steady depletion of bees (and beekeepers). There is, however, an overabundance of reasons given for this change. They are irrelevant. What is relevant is that this disruptive change is what the business speaker spoke of at the seminar. “A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes” is on precarious ground in dealing with the healthful (and tasty) properties of almonds, their relationship to bees, and our topical/systemic pesticide reliant agricultural practices. Favoring “maintenance of the status quo or reversion to some earlier status” doesn’t cut it with regard to addressing or solving the problem (of change, of the continuous loss of pollinators). No amount of digging in one’s heels and insisting that if “it was good enough for granddad, it’s good enough for me” will deal with the change that is already in progress. Wiktionary defines a “progressive” as “A person who actively favors or strives for progress towards improved conditions, as in society or government.” NOA gives “a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.”


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