Changing Times

allison saeng fgad2onbmia unsplash

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s a quote from 1849 from French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. In view of the general turmoil in the world at the moment, it seems apt.

Britain has voted for change and, for those of us who have a curiosity of life, it will be interesting to see how much does change and how much does stay the same.

Our new government, headed by Sir Keir Starmer, seems to have principally won on the idea that we have all been calling for change, and that it’s something that we all want change and need.

Labour’s campaigning was concentrated “Change”, “Vote for Change”, “Change your Life” (I made that one up) and it’s worked. Change is what we voted for and change is what we are told we will get.

Slogans are one thing of course – and very necessary if you want to gain the edge on your competitor – but, in reality, I wonder how much we as individuals are really motivated by someone offering us change.

“Fed up with your husband/wife/partner? How about a change? Here’s the exact polar opposite.”

“Tired of your ungrateful kids? Let’s see if we can change yours with another you’d prefer – what d’you think of this one?”

I can imagine I might be tempted for a second or two to check out the alternatives but I have a suspicion that the emotional pull of the one I’d known for some time would probably take me back into the original “sinner’s” orbit.

Some people thrive on new challenges – new jobs, new experiences, new activities – and that’s great. We need adventurous people in our society in order to make progress and build on the amazing innovativeness that is part of the fascinating make up of a human being.

Other people take comfort in the “same old, same old” routine. They, too, should be held in high esteem. With familiarity comes knowledge, wisdom and judgement about the process of life. Both types of people are a valuable asset to a group, either personally or professionally.

Organisations – as with political leadership contests, are particularly fond of change.  When new senior managers appear, “transformation” is often at the top of their agenda. Change appears so often, it almost becomes a constant. Pity the poor unchanging staff on the front line. They are all too often faced with the pressure and reality of being in a constant state of flux.

raul petri wfvc 75jb9i unsplash

Time for a change in direction

One might wonder if such transformative thoughts and actions are just another way of avoiding sitting with the difficult emotions. Are people who embrace change less about the change and more about the search for something else. Maybe we feel what we have now is not enough. We hope, perhaps, for something better?

If we are in a situation which we feel is making us unhappy, is it natural and right for us to look at an alternative. Picture the yellow-brick road with the rainbow and a pot of gold at the end. So inviting, so colourful, so irresistible. Walking along it, you might have colourful and vibrant flowers on either side or tall and thick hedgerows or woods that stop you peeping over to see what’s on the other side. ensure you stick to the path, and are not tempted to stray. One path might appeal, the other might horrify;  there’s not a right answer. It just depends on your make-up.

In the old days, before travel expanded our lives, whatever change was on offer was limited. We had feet or, if we were rich enough, we had ponies or horses. But, even then, we couldn’t get too far and we had strong social restrictions on how we lived. We had family and the small home-dwelling where that same family would live. Our expectations had to be limited.

Now, they are not and our expectations may be looking for much more satisfaction than they can possibly gain.

So it’s up to our leaders to let us know what this change is going to represent for us, for me. I’m generally a happy plodder with occasional flashes of something that causes a spark that tips me towards wanting a change. Then I reflect that I’m quite happy as I am and resume my plodding. It might be an age thing.

In the case of the politician, I’m hoping the s/he trying to persuade me to vote for change was doing so for idealistic reasons, rather than just because s/he wants a go at the top gig. I’m hoping they genuinely believe that, by persuading me to vote for change, they will bring about a change in my life for my benefit. That would be exciting and even tempting.

We will find out soon enough. And then, at some point, I suppose change will just come to represent more of the same and we’ll look towards another horizon and another invitation to vote for change. Until then, I hope the change we are offered will be to all our benefits, whether we wanted it or not. I wish us all good times ahead, however we voted.