“Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing…Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time.”
–George Orwell, “Charles Dickens” in A Collection of Essays
This is one of my favorite essays by George Orwell, and that’s saying a lot.
I think about this quotation often, because I spend most of my time thinking about individual change. How steps can each of us take, in our own lives, to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative?
Which is not to say that I don’t think that the system should change — just that, for whatever reason, it’s the second question that interests me more.