On Change

I’ve always thought myself somewhat of a traditionalist.  I’ve always argued, why change something if it’s working fine?  I used to scorn at people who, in my mind, pushed for renewal and change just for the sake of saying they’re doing it.  I could not see the sense in change simply for the sake of change.  My motto:  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Thing is, what if it is broke?  It’s like driving with worn tyres.  They seem fine, you never have any problems, until that rainy day when you hit a puddle going 100km/h.  Then you suddenly realise those tyres should have been replaced months ago.  It’s what George Barna refers to as frog-in-the-kettle syndrome.  Please don’t try this at home – I am definitely not an advocate for cruelty to animals – but drop a frog in boiling water and it will jump out immediately.  Place a frog in tap water, however, and slowly heat it up, and the frog will sit there quietly and boil to death.  We often don’t see the need for change.  That doesn’t mean the need is not there.  Sometimes we get so used to our traditions, our routines, the accepted way of doing things, that we refuse to see when those things no longer work.

Tradition is a wonderful thing – it gives us roots, shows us where we come from and provides a firm foundation to build upon.  The same goes for routine – it provides order and structure to our lives, preventing us from falling into chaos.  Without social norms and values our society would fall into total disarray.  But these things, while good, can also lull us into a false sense of security.  We become so caught up in our traditions, routines, norms and values, that we eventually notice only them and miss what’s going on around us.

The universe is in a constant state of flux.  Every moment new stars are being born while old ones die out.  Over the next few billion years our galaxy will cease to exist as it collides and merges with another to form a brand new galaxy.  Outside the seasons are rapidly changing.  Two weeks ago it was snowing outside and this weekend I’m walking around barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt.  I can already see the first new green leaves appearing as I look at the trees outside my window.

Our society is also changing.  As several countries start gearing up for elections there is political change taking place.  The economy is changing so rapidly that I think speculating is becoming a very exciting career.  People who used to have everything suddenly have nothing, and vice versa.  There is an increasing awareness of social and environmental issues and calls for moral reform, along with a growing resistance against religion.  Technology is changing so fast that new gadgets come out before you’ve even had time to master the previous ‘new gadget’ you got.

We change as well.  We get older and more experienced, and with that our priorities change.  Our hopes and dreams from when we were younger get scrapped and new ones take their place.  The people in our lives change, and the nature of our relationships with them.  Even our bodies change: our hormones, our resiliency, our abilities, everything.

It is ridiculous, then, to think change is unnecessary in this world.  Even if it ain’t broke, that doesn’t mean it still works.  Sometimes change is necessary simply because it is.  Without change you stagnate.  Physicists speak of something called entropy.  That’s where the universe is headed – a state of complete equilibrium.  This is a bad thing, because once total entropy is reached, nothing can happen any more because there will not be any large enough pockets of energy left to make it happen.

Can you imagine a life where nothing happens any more?  Change is necessary.  Change is life. Change is natural. As much as it is natural for us to resist change, just as much do we need it.