Fifty years ago, the futurist Alvin Toffler, fore-witnessed and coined what he termed the coming of “the Information Age.” He also warned that the “roaring current of change” brought forth in this new age by emerging technologies would lead to “confusional breakdowns.” In brief, change would change us. And not only for the good. I call this insidious contagion of the information age, “Change crazy.”
Neuro-psychologists tells us change makes us uncertain, insecure. And rest assured, roaring change routinely makes us roaringly insecure.
Insurance agencies will rate the number of changes in a perspective client’s life, assign numeric value, and actuarially decide whether someone who has gone though a divorce, lost a parent, and recently moved hasn’t summed out with too much change, is too subject to illness, etc. and therefore will not get coverage.
Logically, when we aren’t sure what will happen next in the world around us, we also worry about what will happen to us. Every bio-specie’s first instinct is, “What will change mean to me?” if you doubt this for a moment, ask kids whose parents are going through a divorce.
And, when we are uncertain in the inside, our most usual response is anger on the outside. When we get scared; we often get mad. Scientists know this. And so do charlatans of population manipulation whether in a tribal setting, on a network interview, or on Twitter. I scare you, you get mad, I am the white knight who will lead you in battle.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we’re all going to be made change crazy. But, the question is how we are going to respond to change. And what is our attitude to change. Free will also includes the right not to be made crazy by change. Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.
Even as change is the only constant, dramatic change will bring its own dramas, and snake oil salesmen promising a cure.
Politicians posing as leaders will stoke the fire of those dramas – even if they burn down the house.
Toffler got it right. The faster we see, the more we see, and painfully this is often more than we can bear to see. Addiction, radical religious belief, making mayhem are all growth industry reaction patterns to more change than we can process.
“The roaring current of change” that Toffler envisioned means more and more of us will be more and more uncertain about what we were once certain.
It means more and more of us will get angrier and angrier in response to the certainty of uncertainty. And it means change crazy will be the #1 illness in the world even as it is foundational to the likes of Depression, Bi-Polar, and Psychopathic behavior.
If change teaches us anything, it is that the inevitable is not inevitable. Physicists tell us more is different. What we hold to be true changes when what is true escapes our presumed boundaries. To the positive, change crazy will change if we do.
The Taoist masters could ride a horse without holding on. When asked how they did they this, they replied, “Ride the horse in the direction it’s going.”
It is not foolish to know we are not in control. Hubris is the first of the mortal sins. Letting go is very different from giving up.
We’re not in charge of what the world delivers to our door.
We are in charge of our response.
Respond don’t react.
If you or someone you know is suffering from “Change Crazy,” things will change, I promise. Scripture got it right: This too shall pass.
And as Executive Director of The Justice Project, I’d like to think change will make the world a more just place. Sadly, too often change is just change.