Accepting Change

A long time ago I realized I was an agent of change.  In nearly everything I do, there has to be some form of change – and the status quo gets under my skin.

School was where it started to click.  I was able to get to the right answers, but my methods were quite a bit different than those taught.  I recall one math teacher who was sure I was cheating.  One of my programming teachers couldn’t figure out how the code was able to run, since it was nearly 30% shorter than the approved solution.  It’s kept through my career, where I seem to be drawn to complicated projects that focus on both tech and culture transformation.

Not to say I don’t like stability.  My daytime meals are really quite boring in that regard.  Simple, healthy, and all the macros I need.  Let’s me focus on things I find more important.  Like as if I’ve made the necessary changes and can move on.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that a few people in my social circle are going through what appears to be mid-life crises.  From my perspective (and lacking all the necessary context) it would appear that they just didn’t adapt to change over time, simply accepted that things were ok – up until the point they were not.  I mean, I get it.  Change is exhausting, and it never seems to end.  Figuring out what you can handle and what you can’t, that takes a lot of time.  But they do say that time waits for no person…

At a larger scale, I find it fascinating to see people’s resistance to change.  Like there are things that simply are not going to pass if we close our eyes enough.  Some quick thoughts.

  • Climate Change.  Ignore it if you want to, but it’s pretty damn clear that we have a problem.  Doing nothing is not an acceptable course of action.
  • Automation.  Who would say no to a machine that can work 10x as hard and never take a break?  Basic robots are here and going to stay.  We’re at the cusp of AI taking over more complicated analysis jobs.  Hell… day trading is almost entirely driven through algorithms.
  • GMOs.  We, as a planet, consume more than nature can provide on its own.  We hit the annual value last week.  GMOs provide higher yields, better nutrition, and require less chemicals.  This doesn’t negate the risk of single strains – see the Banana crisis for more.
  • Immigration.  This is a math exercise.  To keep an even amount of people in a country, you need to have just about 2.1 kids.  Right now, we’re about 1.7 in North America.  That gap has to be filled by immigration.  And that’s not even talking about the MASS of baby boomers who are retiring and turning into a net weight against social services (they pay into it less than they take out), meaning more people are needed to fill in the tax-paying ranks.
  • Vaccines.  Oy.  This isn’t hard.  There’s a reason people don’t have polio today.  Frankly, we’re a generation away from genetic modifications that can address birth defects.  The ethics of this… that’s a separate topic.

Each of these has an impact on people.  Some more than others.  Some appear simple, but are in reality quite complicated.  It’s natural for people to look for correlation in causation.  ex: Ms. McCarthy’s crusade against vaccines has led to more child deaths than should be reasonable.  We all but eliminated measles in North America up until a few years ago.

Adapting to change is hard.  If folks don’t understand their current value, it’s near sure they won’t understand their value after a change.  Natural reaction is to resist the change.  Ignoring that the change has these impacts makes for disenfranchised people, and can build a massive wave that seems to come from nowhere.  And when people are filled with this anger, they stop seeing clearly.  They stop wanting to talk about it, to perhaps tweak their ideas, to not see other people as enemies.  It’s a slippery slope.

And people who are in positions of power think they are in leadership positions.  They’ll stoke the emotional flames to stay in power or to try an attain more.  Why?  Because it’s the easiest thing to do.  And who doesn’t like easy?

There’s an old saying that goes:  If you meet an asshole during the day, you’re having a bad day.  If you meet nothing but assholes… you’re the asshole.

At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.  Change will never stop, no matter how much we wish it would.  And it’s certainly better to go through change with people than against them.  We’d all be better off trying to have some empathy for those undergoing change.  Can’t really succeed if we leave people behind.

2 thoughts on “Accepting Change

  1. As someone who considers himself resistant to change, almost none of those “changes” listed concern me at all. I don’t even see most of them as “change”. Change, for me, is when my boss asks me work different hours or Mrs Bhagpuss decides we ought to move to another country. Those are things that affect me specifically and about which, crucially, I have to make decisions which may be overuled.

    Change on the level you’re describing is much more like weather. I might like it to be sunny and 23C but if it’s raining and 15C there’s nothing I can do about it. On the levels you’re describing there may be some small lifestyle changes I could make or I could become an activist but equally i can just remain passive and allow change at the macro level to happen around me. I’d call that “living”.

    The world is already unrecognizeable from the one I grew up in but so what? The 1960s and 1970s were unrecognizeable for my grandparents but they didn’t complain about it, they just carried on as they were and barely noticed. That’s one option. I prefer to engage with the changes I like, approve of and enjoy, which are many, and treat teh ones I don’t as bad weather that will pass. I think you do need to keep an eye out for potentially life-threatening change, something ordinary people in Germany in the 1930s didn’t seem to manage, but you also need to keep things in proportion. Most predicted change either doesn’t happen, happens much more slowly or much later than predicted, or turns out to have entirely different impacts to what was predicted.

    Just live through it.

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    • Two parts here that are mixed. Both tolerance to change, and the scope of change.

      I’ll certainly agree that the types of changes listed are way at the macro level, and that there are hundreds if not thousands of downstream effects that may or may not effect people.

      Weather, right? So around here, crops are not sprouting properly, flood are happening on a regular basis, we’ve been hit by more tornadoes in 2 years than in 100, fish are dying, heat waves that are killing people, there are invasive plants (due to higher temperatures), and a wide range of other impacts. The last trip I had to the Miami area.. no one there recycles, there are very few cyclists, and everyone has their AC on full blast. It felt like a surreal experience.

      Pace of change is another interesting topic for another time. There’s an internet rule about arguments and Germany in the 30s that I should do my best to avoid 🙂

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