Thursday, February 16, 2012

Making Change

     While sitting in a meeting room recently, I read a quotation, the source of which is uncertain, which someone had written on the marker board. It read as follows:

"The only thing we can create by resiting change is sorrow" 
I'm sorry, but I disagree. 

     I know that there are lots of well intentioned people out there, working every day to change the world. Students at my school are often encouraged to be world changers. But the above quote seems to me to take as a foundational assumption that change equals good. This is simply not so. Every day we experience change that is not good. Aging is change; find anyone in this day & age who thinks getting old is good. I remember from my high school & college science classes that entropy, the relentless movement (read: change) from order to disorder, is a fact of the physical universe. Also not good. Let us not forget the most significant change we will all one day experience: death. As an Orthodox Christian, the way I see physical death is quite different from that of the wider culture - death is a temporary separation, not a permanent end. This is the Good News of the Gospel, that Christ by His death overcame and destroyed Death and opened for us the gates of everlasting life. Forgive my digression. Where was I?
     Oh yes, change. Not only do I not agree with the unstated assumption that change is always good, I disagree with the specific statement quoted above. I can name some very important and very good things we create by resisting change: Stability. Tradition. Order.
     Foster children experience change every time they get placed with a new family, but what they typically want is to find a family with which to stay; in short, they seek stability. In much of modern American Christendom, there is an expectation of novelty, creativity, doing something "new and exciting" that is rightly criticized for putting appearance over substance. Tradition is taking what is known to be true and preserving it as a precious gift for the next generation. Since my conversion to Orthodoxy six years ago, I have celebrated the same Liturgy hundreds of times and it is not at all boring or old, it is timeless because it is true. Who would care to come home and find that all of ones belongings have been re-arranged and put into different drawers, dressers or rooms?  Or perhaps just thrown into one big pile on the living room floor? Order makes life simpler by establishing what goes where. As a librarian, Order is my daily work. We might have the book you want, but without order, we couldn't find it in the stacks. 
     So, not all change is good, but of course not all change is bad. The originator of the quote that set off this musing probably was intending for whatever change was proposed to do good and improve things. Let us use some discernment, and take each potential change on its own merits instead of making sweeping statements. 


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