Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Courage to Change

This week I have been thinking a lot about change.  With the New Year having passed and people all around the world settling into sustaining both the well thought out and hastily chosen resolutions, change is in the air.  In our house, we have increased our awareness of our foods, are flossing more, are writing consistently, and are being better people.  We identified areas of our life in which we could earn more satisfaction, developed a plan, and put it into action.
Not me.  But you knew that.
Approaching change takes a certain measure of courage.  Even something as small as making sure I floss every night before I go to sleep sometimes takes an immense amount of effort.  I do have to admit, I failed to floss last night, preferring to get into bed a mere one minute sooner than I might have.
As silly as that is, human habits have a pesky way of reinforcing themselves.  The bad routines in which we find ourselves are so comfortable, our brains are loathe to change.  I once heard someone say: “Everyone is perfectly fine with change, it is the path between now and change everyone is afraid of.”
It takes courage to step out into the unknown, to embrace the discomfort accompanying new experiences.  For me, my goal to write 500-1000 words a day (not counting the bi-weekly blog) has been an effort in planning.  On days that I am fully engaged in activities until late at night, I have to ensure a 30 minute or so block of time for me to write.  I have to plan ahead to make it work, otherwise I fall flat on my face.  
Enacting change also requires courage of a different sort.  In the event that you slip, as I did last night with my flossing, acknowledging the mistake, the weak moment, is vital.  As soon as you ignore your actions, you give your self permission to take a step backwards again.  Acknowledging your error helps prevent remission.  Once you have corrected your behavior, continue to move in the direction of change.
As difficult as producing viable change in our own life might be, imagine the intense efforts of altering the landscape in a family, a community, a state, or a society.  Approaching any alteration takes a certain measure of fortitude; tackling issues that have been ingrained into generations, and producing measurable, meaningful change takes unimaginable courage.  Stepping into this arena means creating enemies, making mistakes that can effect more people than just yourself, and generating a tremendous amount of emotion, both positive and negative.
The United States experienced a serious upheaval in the middle of the twentieth century as it struggled to find a unified racial identity.  As integration swept the country, people were forced to interact with groups they had been taught were different, inferior even.  Resistance was common, with groups resorting to violence and murder.  The country still deals with the specter of it’s bigoted past even though we are fifty years past the inception of the movement.
The strength and courage manifest in those at the forefront of the movement was immense.  For the benefit of many, they chose to put their own lives on the line, sometimes resulting in their own death.  They had the courage to change, because they knew change was right.
Ghandi taught us to “be the change we want to see in the world.”  Our metamorphoses begins within; only through our own introspection will we drive change.  Courage exists in every one of us, courage that enables us to take steps a new direction.  Enacting individual change can lead to progressively larger changes, potentially altering the world we live in for the better.
Have the courage to change.  I believe in you.

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