Archive for January 5th, 2012

…is Change, as the Change Gurus keep reminding us.  You know who they are:  those folks who muck around with our lives, tweaking this and altering that and causing general uproar, all the while assuring us that what they are doing is Normal, because “the only constant in life is Change.”

I keep waiting for someone to state the obvious, that it’s because Change Is the Only Constant in Life that we should dial it back wherever possible.  Think about it:  One day you’re a baby, the next you’re off to school, and a scant twelve years later, you’re old enough to vote, hold a job, drive a car.  Then you get married, and the changes start flying at you:  your own kids, your aging parents, mergers-acquisitions-divestitures at work, your spouse’s altering body (to say nothing of your own), and the next thing you know, you have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

And those are just the unavoidable changes.  Then there are the changes you make so that your life runs more smoothly:  A new house, a new community, a different school, maybe a different career.  Some of us find God, others abandon Him.  Some of us change spouses like we change shoes.  (I’m not advocating that last one.)

And then along come the Change Gurus.  You go into work one morning thinking about all the projects you have to get done; you boot up, and say what?!  Everything’s different!  The IT Oafs have been at it again!  And just when you were getting used to the last changes!

Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7.  I-Pods, I-Phones, I-Pads, Kindle Readers, MP-3 Players.  Change is Good!  Why?  Because The Only Constant in Life is Change!

I was just thinking this morning that when I began my own career, I learned to type on a manual typewriter.  You really had to pound those keys, and a typing speed of 60 words per minute guaranteed you a good job.  Electric typewriters were just beginning to revolutionize the office scene, and a company that had a Xerox photocopier was progressive, indeed.  Then came the Selectric Typewriter, with the little ball that you could change for different typefaces — holy cow!  Then the electronic typewriter, then the word processor, and finally, the computer.  Who’d a-thunk that in thirty short years, we’d all be computer geeks?!

My stepgrandmother was born on a farm in Poland.  She never went to school, never learned to read or write.  When she came to this country, she hired out as a farm hand — in those days, New York City still had farms.  She lived to see a man walk on the moon, and a Polish Pope, whom she loved.  (No need to bring up which event was the more important to her!)

All of this came to a head for me when my husband ran into an old acquaintance at the supermarket.  They got to talking about one thing and another, and it developed that the acquaintance was in Human Resources (what a ghastly term) at Tufts University in Boston.  Talking about hiring people, he mentioned that age discrimination is a very real tactic in human-resource management; you don’t like to do it, but the simple fact is that people get to a point where they simply can’t absorb all the changes going on in the business world.  This really hit home with my husband, who retired two years ago:  It’s a shocking thing to realize that after forty or forty-five years of increasing productivity, of altering the person you were to fit in with the Change Gurus’ vision, you are suddenly unemployable because you’ve tapped out your Change Viability.  What’s left in life?!

I belong to a church that resists change for the sake of change.  This is not to say that changes don’t take place, only that there has to be a good reason for changing things up.  The joke goes, “How many Orthodox Christians does it take to change a light bulb?” and the answer is either, “Change?!” in a horrified tone of voice, or “Change?  What’s that?” in a tone of complete puzzlement.  This is known as Change-Guru Hell.

But it’s a perspective that I wish we could export to the modern world, the notion that Change isn’t always good, that you don’t fix what ain’t broke, that people aren’t just “resources” to be used up and thrown away, but of intrinsic value, whose rate of absorption needs to be respected until they can make a smooth transition to the place where they need to be, in order to advance spiritually.  That is a “change we can live with.”  More, that is a change we must accommodate, since it prepares us for the final and most critical change of all:  The change from temporal to eternal life.

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