Posted by: MC | June 14, 2010

Change: Who Cares?


So here we are, lots of us feeling somehow betrayed
with many of the most vocal folks on both ends
of the conservative/progressive spectrum heavy
into tape loops of public diatribe.  The change just
isn’t right.   It falls short.  It isn’t giving the same
feel we signed on for during the campaigns
.

The pressing issue here in the middle of the EX:Change project is finding the right words to answer a question variously phrased:

–Change:  Who cares anyway?

–So what?

–Why would anyone want to know what 100 people said about change in the late winter and early spring of 2009?

–Oh … and while you’re at it, what makes any of this of urgent importance right now?

–Wait, wait – did I say ‘right now?’  I really meant in 2 years when a book can finally reach publication?

You got it.  It’s query agents and court the publishing industry time.

They’re good questions.  They’re quite legitimate in the necessarily domineering context of commerce.  What makes the EX:Change project with its road trip and its 100 voices important enough to buy, sell, trade?

Last year, the word was associated with promise, with possibility, with hope.  Maybe it still is.  We know it’s still in use.  Deep water drilling practices must change, for example.  Because of their flaws, the lifestyles of countless human, avian, aquatic, mammalian and plant beings living in and around the Gulf coast of Louisiana have no choice but to change.  Then there are economic circumstances that change and change – stock market stats dance the Tarantella, big banks post astronomical earning records and everyday people lose their homes, lose their jobs, exhaust their unemployment.  Health care is undergoing change and the debate on whether or not that’s a good thing or enough of a thing or the right thing continues.

These changes have a pretty specific quality.  They’re each related, sometimes via rant, to some particular issue.  They all share something else as well.  They’re all essentially devoid of explicit consideration of what change would look like were it to occur.  They have the quality of complaint in that way that seems dangerously endemic to contemporary American rhetoric – the complaining somehow satisfies.  If I complain, I establish myself as critically aware and just a touch superior to the situation and its perpetrators.  Then it’s up to someone else to deal with it.

Some years ago I was struck by the sound and fury arising from middle class white parents with regard to emerging popular coverage of evidence that adolescent girls (mostly white) seem consistently to lose or forfeit their voices in favor of fitting in socially in circumstances as diverse as school, home, friendship and dating.  This is actually a pervasive and threatening tendency that, if not confronted, shows up in adulthood as depression.  So, it was small wonder that parents of these girls were concerned.  But this is what I saw.  Parents would read a popular book on the subject, talk with other parents in worried ways, and pretty much be done.  Worrying was enough.

Similarly, complaining too often seems to pass for a sense of having done something.

In the ABOUT essay for this blog site, I described my motive for embarking on this quest to find out what the energetically touted and desired change means and would look like.

We can have great good feelings associated with a word like change.  But if we never stop to say clearly what we mean and what we’ll recognize as signs of change, we can easily feel betrayed if the feeling isn’t delivered, if the change doesn’t come.

If we stop at complaining, it’s the same thing.

So here we are, lots of us feeling somehow betrayed with many of the most vocal folks on both ends of the conservative/political spectrum heavy into tape loops of public diatribe.  The change just isn’t right.  It falls short.  It isn’t giving the same feel we signed on for during the campaigns.  Almost reflexively we go directly to the attribution that a failure of leadership is all that can explain why we feel so betrayed.

So back to, “Who cares?” and, “So what?”  We all care at some level because we all have a reaction.  We all want change.

And the problem isn’t strong voices, it’s content.  It’s simple content that comes from slowing down enough to ask and take responsibility for the responses to three fundamental questions.  Relative to any of the abundant issues of the day, what do we mean when we say the word change?  In the process of change, what do we want to keep – what do we need to stand on as we work toward the change we want?  And what specifically will we recognize as signs that change is happening?

…Now to put that in a single compelling sentence.

Any suggestions?

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Responses

  1. I’ve long held the belief that ‘worry’ or ‘news stories’ or lots of talk about a bothersome topic relieves people enough to squelch any real action. If we talk about it, write stories & see it on network news, then that’s good…..yet no action is taken so nothing changes. How to change this?


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