In this era of political discourse, rhetoric, grandstanding and social media hype, it is all the more important for each of us to understand issues that impact ourselves, our loved ones and our lives in general, and for us to render our own opinions and thoughts as we see fit. Opportunists will seize upon challenges of the day and whip us into a frenzy to create a want for change that benefits themselves in some way. Yet those same opportunists may not have thought through, and may not be aligned to care about, the impact and the consequences of that change upon us.
If we agree there is a need for change, I wonder if we are truly gravitating towards a valued concept or ideal or are we instead running away from an unwanted current state reality? This running away verses running towards is an important concept. Running away would seem to be dominated by a sense of fear, while running towards a desirable goal or end state would seem to create a feeling of elation, positivity or even joy. Research shows that people who retire away from their jobs are less satisfied in retirement than people who retire into a new life pattern that they designed and adopted.
So as it relates to our roles in assessing change, how do we respond to change ideas that are thrust upon us? Do we embrace it, reject it, ponder it or ignore it? I think we would agree that innovation, change and creativity are often valued behaviors that we should at least selectively embrace even if they make us uncomfortable. Perhaps it takes courage to overcome our fears such that we at least believe we are gravitating to a more desired end state. Ideally, even if we are not certain, I contend that we should have at least considered the question of “why” when others recommend change. Why is this person recommending this change at this time in this way? Do I understand what is being recommended and why? Does it make sense to me?
Too often group-think and fear enter into the equation: “I must be the only one that doesn’t understand.” “If I ask a question people will think I am dumb.”
And so, like in the fable, “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” people listen, pretend to understand and choose not to ask the simple questions: why this, why now, why you? I contend that you should consider finding your voice in every aspect of your life as you see fit. Not every time on every issue, but selectively. And then in those circumstances, ask the why question. Be an educated consumer. Don’t be misled by people who may not have your best interest at heart. Whether this is about politics, healthcare, buying a car, employers, or just about another person, it would always seem reasonable to ask why.
Loved ones will likely be willing to engage in the dialog, won’t they? So would trusted friends and colleagues, right? So why have a lower standard for others?
Although he was talking about nearing the end of life, the words of poet Dylan Thomas seem relevant in a broader context and so as it relates to accepting change blindly I say to you, “Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Instead ask the why question, seek to understand and bring your voice to bear as you see fit. The virtue of America and the wisdom of our forefathers was captured in the first amendment around this very idea - freedom of speech. Be your own advocate and ask the relevant question – you may be very glad you did.
Copyright © 2020 Bruce Flareau
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