Some Thoughts on Institutions


Today on Morning Edition Condoleezza Rice shared that the founders of the American republic understood institutions weren’t built for human perfections, but for human imperfections [1]. If only present day leaders understood institutions in this way, too.

We humans don’t always act in ways that help us achieve our goals. Our imperfections get in the way. So we establish ways of doing things, patterns of behavior, to help us act appropriately. This is particularly valuable during times when our judgment is clouded.

In our pursuit of ever more ambitious goals, goals that require coordinated action of many individuals, we need a system of such procedures that is designed to help us achieve those goals. When we put these procedures into practice, we collectively move toward our goals. When this pattern of behavior persists over time, we give rise to a recognizable entity: an institution.

Institutions exist to help us act in ways that make it possible to achieve the goals we set for them. They are especially valuable at times when we experience uncertainty that stokes our primal fear.

 


[1] Condoleezza Rice: Institutions Aren’t Perfect, But They’re The Bedrock Of Democracy

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