When I was earning a living making forecasts, my emphasis was on forecasting turning points, not projecting straight lines. Projecting a straight line (in any form) is the dumbest thing a forecaster can do - the only judgement one can make is how straight is the straight line. One cannot really forecast a straight line; I contend we can merely project it. To me, a line will continue to be straight (or sort of) until something happens that causes it to go off its trajectory. Normally, people assume a straight projection (that life will go on as usual) until the expectation is proven to be wrong and then ask what happens. As forecasters, we have to know what are the key parameters which give rise to the existing situation, which key parameter is likely to change first and when that happens what happens next. In the mind of a forecaster, therefore, the main task is always to assess the integrity and condition of the key parameters as well as to look out for any extraneous factors that are likely to intrude into the system which will alter the whole picture. In the end, the quality of a forecast rests on judgement, based on the experience in the assigned field as well as the breadth and depth of knowledge of the world around him or her and us.
Living a good life is living a boring life, as boring as projecting a straight line. Same thing, day in and day out. Nature is boring. One can make one's life a bit more interesting with variations around the same theme. Today, I eat steak instead. The system does not change; our activities change. When the system is stable, we can dream - about how we are going to make progress in life through material acquisition so that we can show off to our friends and relatives - and we take our time trying to accomplish our vision and mission, step by each of our own slow and painful step. The system is in equilibrium, probably static equilibrium (in and around the same area more or less like some nomadic tribe in the jungle) and if lucky dynamic equilibrium with ability to accommodate population growth with sufficiency which in most societies is termed prosperity. Systemic equilibrium is crucial to happiness, no matter how much people may gripe about the ordinariness of everyday life which is really a liberty that only happy people can indulge. The English complain about the weather, and monks talk about the dreariness of mundane life.
Let us now introduce trauma, otherwise and now popularly known as change. We shake the tree vigorously and see what falls. We bonsai the branches by twisting and turning and telling people what they can and cannot do or how they should do things in order that we may create a brave new world by transfiguring the present. We imagine a better world, but we end up in the end with the same old dullness, sometimes kept interesting only by the unannounced potential threat to our soundness or mortality by some madman in power keen to stay in power forever, at whatever level of hierarchical structure that has somehow been erected all around us. In effecting change, the easiest way is to replace a lousy system with another lousy system. This is when reformers are unimaginative and uncreative. They see a lousy system, and wanting to replace it, end up giving the same lousy system except for some suggested modifications which hopefully give better results which did not quite materialise which then leads to another call for traumatic change and another sameness.
If therefore we are going to get the same system (albeit with modifications), we might as well determine what that core system is going to be and strengthen it. In most human systems, the core element is the absolute right of the individual and of all individuals, each same and equal in terms of right. The right to freely think and speak and associate and contract and exchange and indulge and believe and practice. The right to live as humans. The underlying structure of any human system must be founded on the recognition of these rights, and institutionalised. Once this core is corrupted, change will come after change. In order that the system will transition over time through the generations, this change can also be institutionalised so that not one person or a group of individuals can monopolised an entire generation. The call for change through rallies is usually a rally for generational change when an individual has been dominating an entire generation. In building in the required change and transition in the system, there will be scope for creativity in government when individuals or groups can propose newfangled ideas. In the end, however, when prosperity has been bestowed on the society, there will be fear over the protection of the people's assets and if the assets are not so fairly distributed, problems of the unemployed and the poor. The final battle in the capitalist world is always the fight between capital and labour.
Traumatic systematic changes are costly to social property or capital and they should be avoided if possible. If not, it may be the only way out. But there must always be a system to be put in place or else we will have no social cohesion.