Change or Die
21 October, 2010
Change or Die

We are taught that change is good. We are encouraged to embrace and even like change. We are taught to meet new life and circumstances head on without looking back.

 

And we do it magnificently. I, for example, like to travel, to see different scenery ever so often. Change has been embraced as the mantra for the twenty first century. Just watch the commercials and you will see that it is all about change. Don’t like your car insurance? Change to

another one. Don’t like your detergent? Change to this new better brand that will make your whites whiter. Don’t like your dating service? There are fifty other ones to choose your new mate from. You can change your name, you can surgery yourself into a different face, you can even change your sex. And as great as the possibility of such changes can be, in the twenty first century one has to wonder: why, in the world with all the information available to us, would I still have bought bad detergent or bad car insurance in the first place?

 


I like tasting different foods, and discovering new streets in foreign cities. I like looking at original masterpieces in museums and seeing historical places. I like listening to different accents and opinions. I don’t agree with most of them, but I relish the freedom most people have to form their own opinions.  It’s the romantic in me that likes to travel so much. The realist in me realizes that like most people, with more choices I have become more fickle with my options. It’s a syndrome of my generation to run. Like many of my friends who are dissatisfied with work or relationships I constantly look for something better, something new. The job may be okay, but it’s not perfect. It’s as if being content somehow makes us loose out on the other, more perfect life. So we move on. And we try not to stay in one place long enough to contemplate if we had done the right thing by running in the first place. By not looking back, we miss out on lessons history has tried to teach us.
We are society of changes. We change a president when he takes a booming economy and turns it into a recession. We change a president when he lets corruption and greed of a bigger country rule his own. We do so in votes. We get to a place that was way better than before and suddenly; it’s not good enough. A lady in Telavi once told me, she shouldn’t have to live in a country where homeless dig through trash bins at night for food. I asked her to find me a country that didn’t have homeless. I would gladly move there, learn their ways of life and bring it home. I do so love to travel. And so we all like change. It might not be in our favor, or even good for others, but it’s human nature to be fickle.

In the British museum on my occasional trip, I walked through a Greek gallery where I was told a story of Aristides the just ruler of Athens in Ancient Greece. Aristides was so just and wise that he was elected to rule for years. During an occasional ostracism* an illiterate man asked Aristides to write down on the tablet Aristide’s name. When Aristides surprised asked if Aristides had ever done him any injury, the man said “None at all, neither I know the man; but I am tired of hearing him everywhere called the just”. Aristides hearing this wrote down his name on the tablet and left the city voluntarily. He had recognized the human nature for its fickle stance and for its need for change.
So this change thing, or ‘Changie thingie’ like Sarah Palin likes to call it, is not new. We have been changing for better or worse ever since Ancient Greece and probably long before that. But you’d think that in twenty first century we would have learned how to recognize a good thing when we see it and have patience to stick with it. And perhaps we should give someone who is trying to change our lives for the better the benefit of the doubt before calling him or her a Nazi Communist.

Simple fact is that we don’t think there is another Aristides walking amongst us. And if he was, we’d banish him like we had before, because we live in a skeptical world, and we are skeptical people. Well, maybe it’s time for a change.
*A tradition of writing a man’s name on a tablet whom public wanted to be banished from the city for ten years; the tablets were collected and calculated. If less than six thousand votes were counted, the person was safe from banishment.

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