Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Our World is Changing: How Might We Master Change?

The Libyan Revolution, an example of change gone wrong. Image shows a tank outside the city of Misrata (Wikimedia Commons)
Change is guaranteed in Nature. Matter undergoes state transitions, ecosystems suffer violent episodes and recover and your body turns over your red blood cells every 90 days.
Even aspects of our personhood are in a constant state of flux; from childhood to puberty, from adulthood to old age, what we might consider as ‘us’ never stays quite the same. We always seem to find an alien of sorts to cringe at when staring at records of our past selves.

Far from being an existential conundrum, changes in the self is evidently our most precious characteristic, imparting us a degree of adaptability that has allowed us to survive a world where Change rules supreme. Besides that, in a world where humanity is immutable in belief and structure, would we discover anything new? Would we discover that tenacious form of ‘human spirit’?

And yet, despite all this, we also happen to live in a world where change receives very mixed reception. Few of us embrace change as we would embrace life itself. Even when most people would prefer change over the status quo, there are always those who would prefer the past over the present and its futures, no matter what.

The concept of ‘traditions’, ‘customs’ and perhaps even animism evolved partly out of our natural desire to always be connected to the past. This is something to celebrate, but tradition that fails to acknowledge change tends to breed instability in the long run as pressure inevitably builds up between the forces for change and the forces of status quo.

Therefore, in a world gripped in ever morphing new challenges, it is imperative that we seek to master the science of change through the creation of “tools for mastering Change”. Our present tools and structures for managing ourselves (i.e. governments, institutions, policies, etc) thrive on creating artificial stability. They are fragile. A single parameter change can quickly and violently end things (the global debt market is but one example) and we would be left helpless and unprepared, all ripe for extinction.
Any fool can create change and the tools for manifesting change already exist; the internet is the tamer kind and modern weaponry is the deadliest of them all.
The astute reader will note, however, that I draw a distinction between tools for creating change versus mastering change. Any fool can create change and the tools for manifesting change already exist; the internet is the tamer kind and modern weaponry is the deadliest of them all. What we lack are the tools to manage and understand change. Consequently, while we can establish change amongst ourselves (revolutions, protests for policy change, lobbying) we are COMPLETELY blind as to question of what those changes might entail and how to implement them without killing ourselves in the end.

To put it simply, while it is easy for us to implement said change, it is difficult for us today to manage that change once it is out there in the wild. We are fragile, glass figures that easily shatter and shatter ourselves in the process, all in the name of unquestioned, unmanaged, undisciplined change.

Mastering change is about more than merely predicting what lies ahead (an unreliable science in the hands of fools), its about embracing change just as we would like to live a good life without becoming hurt in the process. It is about us as a species learning to drive confidently into this brave new world of ours while not under influence of our naive selves.