Monday, December 15, 2008

Inciting Change

Change is not just something you get at the grocery store. It's how society and individuals grow, progress and learn. Unfortunately change also includes moving the other way into decay, corruption and ruin.

Let's assume for a moment that you want to be an agent of change. What's involved?

You can decide on your own that you want to change something about yourself. You may want to lose weight, earn a degree, buy a home, earn a million dollars, read a book, whatever.

Changes of a local scope are those that influence those around you. Of course that comes down to a question posed in the New Testament: "Who is my neighbor?" It really depends on what you're changing. Some changes will effect your family, like deciding to go on a vacation together, or to all learn to speak Pig Latin fast enough that the neighbors can't tell what you're saying. If you decide your home owner's association needs to be reformed, it takes a bit more effort since a few hundred people could be involved. The local scope can grow to encompass just about everything.

When the scope of a change covers everything, you get to global change. Everything we do has some global impact, but the strength of that impact is almost always negligible in the big picture. Based on chaos theory, there could be an extra butterfly in South America this winter because I left for work fifteen seconds late one day in 1995. The vast majority of change is small and untrackable. A relatively small number of changes or actions have a clear global impact.

The interesting thing about the spectrum of local to global change is that the large changes depend upon the individual scope as a driving force. Cities, states and countries don't make laws. The people do, through whatever government they have.

The usual method to produce change is to follow the established rules. The legislative branch of government is responsible for writing the laws that we will follow. If you want to change something, there's a well defined process that works fairly well most of the time, whether at the level of city, state, or federal government. An idea is turned into a bill which is discussed. Some are deemed important enough to proceed to a vote, and some of those bills become law. Citizen initiatives are a similar process.

Another method of inducing change is to be a conciencious objector. Some time you may feel a law (or entire government) is oppressive or archaic, and the usual method of following the rules of the current system doesn't work. To change the way things work may require breaking a law in a particular way. Being an objector means you break a law publicly, announce your personal intention to the appropriate authorities, and subject yourself to the full consequences. Personally, I don't have any call to be a conciencious objector, but I maintain respect for those who honestly have no alternative.

The third method to incite change is to break laws without accepting full responsibility. This group actively tries to avoid the consequences of their actions. This group includes the scum of the earth. Deadbeats. Thugs. Thieves. Murderers. Terrorists. People who roll through stop signs. This method, rather than creating something new, seeks only to tear down and destroy the existing value system. Those who use this method of change think might makes right, and that they can do whatever they are strong enough to get away with. Theoretically, this method could be used to do something good, but those who try to get away with breaking the law aren't usually out to help others, now are they?

Now that you've decided this "change" thing is what you want, what sort of change do you want to make? Change ain't so hot if you just put a different pair of dirty socks back on. Change for the worse is just as likely as change for the better if you don't look before you leap.

If you're used to sitting back in your comfort zone, you can take things two ways. First would be to take some area where you already have some expertise, and to make some change using that skill or knowledge. Second, you could decide you need to change yourself, and gain a new area of expertise. If you decide to change something beyond the personal scale before you know what you're doing, you'll be like famous actors who use their well developed skills to weep or rant at congressional hearings on subjects they only peripherally understand. All show, no substance.

So, remember that order. Learn skill then use skill. That way, you'll know what you're doing, and it will show. I may not agree with you, but you'll have the respect of those who value knowlege used well.

So What Now?
I already mentioned that whining isn't the answer, but there are infinite ways of changing for the better. Whether you learn something, create something, or serve someone based on what you already know, the world may just be a better place because of you. Don't like your mayor, school board member, or Congressman? Run against him. Don't want to run for office? Support someone who will. Use what you've got however you can to become an agent of change, rather than a victim of it.


Kelly said...

Another thing we can do to incite change is to educate others to our view.

cube said...

change + hope = chope.


Kelly said...

"chope"...that is a new one...

You may notice, however that the change John is talking about require action on our part...instead of having it handed to us on a government platter.