Corrective Cycles

The concept of a virtuous cycle is one where one positive event leads to the next one and continues with each new event becoming more positive. A doom cycle is the opposite with each event spiraling downward. While both virtuous and doom cycles are widely discussed in the abstract, they are rarely seen in actuality. What is more common is the corrective cycle.

Consider the case of the sewing machine. It was invented by Walter Hunt. He decided not to patent it at the urging of his daughter. She was afraid that the sewing machine would put seamstresses out of work. But Elias House and Isaac Singer took what Hunt had done and started selling sewing machines.

Seamstresses were replaced with less skilled labor (the doom), but the availability of mass-produced, inexpensive clothing took Americans out of rags (the virtuous).

The labor used to produce the clothing was largely immigrants. Their ability to earn a modest living began an upward movement into society for those who had no hope up until that time (the virtuous).

However, the working condition in the garment factories was atrocious. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 garment workers (the doom). The outrage over the fire led to improved safety practices (the virtuous) and gave an impetus to one of the most effective unions in America at the time: The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) (the virtuous).

The corrective cycle from the invention of the sewing machine is still unfolding today. It has now gone beyond the borders of the United States. How it will evolve is still in progress.

We tend to become alarmist about the bad and overjoyed by the good. But we need to think of both bad and good as just phases in the evolution of society. Just imagine what society would be like if there existed pure virtuous or doom cycles. That’s hard to imagine unless you are a politician running for office selling either hope or despair. What we need are leaders who can look ahead at corrections, and consequences that are needed to guide us through both the good and bad.

* * *

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Unknown

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.