Never stop changing

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life

In light of recent events, it seems to me that human nature has braved yet another test.

Throughout history, the natural order of things has been change. We know this because our ancestors had to adapt to survive. Adapt or die. Times pass. Seasons come and go. No single place can look the same given ten or twenty years. Growth and development is the unlocked promise of our DNA. People age and die, and events fall out of relevance and into history books.

So my post-election question is this: are we truly happy, or have we simply grown complacent?

We spend so much time, effort and money trying to preserve the status quo. Obama spent over 2 billion USD worth of campaign funds just to fight for a tomorrow that will be the same as today when we woke up. Senate unchanged, House of Reps unchanged. Business as usual. We listen to centrist skeptics tell us voting for Obama was right because he is the lesser of two evils, and if we hear it enough we might even believe them. But is being the lesser of two evils really the best we can do? If we admit that there are things we don’t like, such as the drone wars, or extrajudicial killings, or unilateral war, actions that we don’t feel represent our values as a nation, then why can’t we be faithful to those beliefs?

Why do we wait for other people to tell us the change we need? When did we become so powerless as to need someone else to point it out when something is wrong? When did we become backseat drivers, agreeing (or not) to change but never, ever conceding on the terms of change?

Are there really no alternatives? Are we really so defunct, as a democracy, to produce anyone, anything, that really shoots an arrow to the heart? When was the last time you watched a politician speak and felt a conviction that made your heart flush with white heat, thinking ‘Yes. This. This is what I believe in’? Or have we become so educated that we’re all on the same page, rendering reasonable discussion unnecessary?

In the new order of things, people are resistant to change. It’s as if we’re bickering over roses or magnolias when none of us are willing to admit that the garden isn’t to our taste anymore. In fact, we fucking hate gardening. And meanwhile the weeds are still eating their way through.

Time moves forward but we remain stuck in inertia, jerking like marionette puppets to the relentless progression of minutes, hours, weeks, years. But there is a very sharp, very striking difference between waiting with patience on the side of the road to change, and wilfully avoiding making those first steps.

And Government at home?

Well, this is funny because apparently the problem is too much change. Apparently we can’t handle a shotgun election and we’re also too in love with the past to accept a female prime minister who doesn’t care about her coat choices, and did we mention that she’s in a de facto relationship?

Julia Gillard’s biggest crime is breaking her promise on the carbon tax, if not replacing Kevin Rudd himself in the first place. Let’s think about this for a second. What does the promise of a politician even mean? No – what does anyone’s promise mean? That we won’t ever think differently – even though we will? Come now. We all know that forever means forever only in that moment. Forever means forever only so long as your beliefs don’t change. Forever means forever until you change your mind, for better or worse. The law of nature dictates it. Now, do I want my prime minister to believe the same things today that she believed three years ago, no matter what has transpired in between? No matter if those beliefs are now proven to have been quick-footed, naive, reckless, wrong?

Yes, domestic politics has major commitment issues, but at least it’s willing to change its mind. Admit that it made bad choices, take risks on better ideas as they come.

But there it is again, the half-scared, half-righteous plea: today is not the day for change. Well, neither is tomorrow by the looks of it. Somehow we feel too betrayed (by what?) to be hopeful. We shouldn’t. I believe that people should be naturally optimistic. We are so tiny and fleeting in the history of the universe, and so unable to understand the vastness of our existence that it is hopeless to know what to feel about the future, let alone feeling bad about it.

And if in fact the new decisions of governments are even worse (it happens), then we should be quick and firm to call them out.

I guess being scared does make sense. The human condition is incredibly fragile. It’s hard to look forward to change when some politicians tell us it’ll hurt, even as others tell us we have to bear it for the sake of the future. Who are we supposed to trust? How do we even know what the future looks like?

But we have to remember this. The future may not belong to us, or even to our children, but we are its custodians. I believe we can do the right thing, even if it will not benefit us directly.

Picasso’s art didn’t save him from dying without ever knowing his fame. Beethoven did not compose the greatest symphonies on earth for the pleasure of his own deaf ears.

Do not wait for time. It will always be there: behind you, in front of you, plunging right ahead whether you wait or not.

Attend those rallies. Sign those petitions. Cut that hair, quit that job, drop/date that person, finish that degree, write that book, run that race, create that future.

Tomorrow’s a new day.

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