There’s been a lot of debate in recent years about change in the world, from very opposing ends of the spectrum. Some argue that without change and adaptability we’ll wind up on the wrong side of history, particularly when it comes to social issues. Others, that if we change too much we’ll no longer uphold any of the values that used to define who we are: government, family, education. Change, to them, is scary. It’s a departure from everything that they know and are comfortable with.
Now, I wish I could speak from a place of understanding for that fear, to argue fairly for both sides, but I’m not sure I can. I do respect that at 24 and raised in a very open household in San Francisco, a very progressive city, that I grew up in a world already accepting. I am both grateful for this and acutely aware that because of it, relating to those who deny change is a very difficult task for me. As a prominent example, not a single ounce of me understands how granting equal rights to all infringes upon your own ability to live, even if their lifestyles are not ones you agree with. Perhaps one day someone will be able to explain it to me in a way I might somewhat understand, but in all the debates I’ve ever had with those who feel that way I’ve never once agreed with a word they said. Then again, quite a few compared homosexuality to pedophilia or bestiality. Perhaps I needed to find somewhat more rational discussion partners…
In my mind, to deny any consenting adult the right to love (as with some countries), to marry (as with ours), to benefit as others do simply because of a difference in sex, religion, orientation or skin color, is to rob that person of their individual expression and rights as a civilized human being. I for one am much more afraid of being remembered as a generation that denied them that than one that left behind the last vestiges of certain antiquated values… and yet there is still resistance. Where does it come from?
Who or what is the main opponent to change? Is it fear? Disgust? Religion?
I have found that some of the loudest and brashest opposition to social change tend to speak from a place of faith or on behalf of their Lord. Not all religions feel this way certainly, and not all people of faith, but as someone who has been bible thumped before for her ‘alternative lifestyle’, I do wonder: what threat does my existence pose to the lives of those who wish to live by a certain creed, particularly if I’m given equal rights? Am I, as an outspoken bisexual woman, so scary? Alternatively, how is equality for those of different sexualities any different as a civil rights issue than the equal rights of women, of people of color, of followers of different religions?
As I eagerly await your responses to this discussion, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes regarding change and evolution.
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” - Lao Tzu
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” - Albert Einstein
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” - Mary Shelley
“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.” - Andy Warhol
“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” - Dostoyevsky
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin
"What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” - Maya Angelou