12.3.15Posted by Jeanne
Jemimah's paraphrase of Francis Bacon's Of Innovations.
New ideas, which are born of time, are like living creatures, and are underdeveloped in the beginning. Despite this, and in the same way that those who first bring honor to their families are mostly more worthy than their children, so the first idea (if it is a good one) is rarely acquired by copying. For evil, according to man’s perverted nature, gathers strength as it grows, whereas good is strongest at the beginning. Every medicine is a new idea, and those that won’t use them must expect new illnesses, for time will bring out new ideas. If time makes things worse, and wisdom and good advice can’t make them better, what will become of us? It is true that settling things by tradition might not be perfect, but at least it is accepted, and those things that have gone together for a long time are at least linked, whereas new things don’t necessarily fit in. So new ideas are useful but they can cause problems. They are like strangers, admired but not approved of. Well, this would be true if time stood still, but it doesn’t. On the contrary, times moves in such a way that continuing with traditions can be as disruptive as the new idea was, and those who live in the past are scorned by men of new ideas. Therefore, it would be good if innovators would follow time’s example. Time certainly brings great ideas, but it does it slowly and quietly so that you hardly notice them. Otherwise, anything new is not wanted. It surely helps some and hinders others, and he that is helped takes it as a blessing and thanks time, whereas he who is hurt takes it as a bad thing and blames the creator. It is good not to try experiments in states unless it is urgent or obviously beneficial. We would do well to remember that reformation comes from the change; wanting change doesn’t bring about the reformation. Finally, remember that a new idea, even though it is not rejected outright, might be held in suspicion, and as Scripture says, we should stand in the old ways and look and find where the straight and right way is, and walk in it.