DO I REALLY EXPECT BLOGGING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
THE SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IS NOT NECESSARILY ANY INDIVIDUAL BLOG—BUT THE CUMULATIVE TOTAL. IF ENOUGH OF US (better yet, the right people talking to the right people) PUSH FOR CHANGE, WE WILL EVENTUALLY GET A RESULT.
The price will normally be high. The result will rarely be exactly what we want. But, on balance, the effort will have been worth it.
I have been involved with pushing for change for most of my life so the label of iconoclast certainly does apply. The experiences have given me quite an insight into the processes of change—a subject that isn’t studied enough (let me emphasize this).
Overall, and somewhat to my own surprise, I am more optimistic than pessimistic—though I prefer to think of my outlook as cheerfully realistic leavened with a battle-hardened sense of just how much time and effort seems to be involved in changing anything—together with the price one pays.
Although, I use it where it seems appropriate, I am skeptical of the word ‘optimism.’ It is all too easily paired with ‘mindless.’ But, let’s put it this way: a positive mental attitude beats pessimism every time. Let me add that for some strange reason I have become decidedly more positive as I have got older. My difficulties and failures have not discouraged me. They are great teachers.
One lesson is that if freedom is not free, change certainly isn’t. But, anything worth doing is hard.
Why am I an iconoclast? I don’t know exactly. The probable reasons are a combination of a good brain, acute powers of observation, empathy, a socially concerned grandmother, extensive reading, and being endowed with both stamina and fortitude.
Given time, I’m sure I could come up with a harsher judgment such as, “Too dumb to know any better.” Either way, I have learned to accept—and enjoy—the reality. The fight keeps my brain well exercised. Success, every now and then, gives me great satisfaction. The process of learning, thinking, and writing purposefully is so much more enjoyable than merely consuming.
Here are some thoughts on change.
- Though we live with change, most of us (even iconoclasts)yearn for stability—at least within our personal lives. The irony implicit in that statement is not lost on me.
- Change is neither good nor bad. It is just different. If it appears to be good, there is always a downside—and vice-versa.
- Change is always opposed by the greedy and the ignorant—and frequently by both. It may be opposed by the honorable for the best of reasons—even if the best of reasons are wrong. The constant is that change will be opposed.
- The dirty little secret of change is that it is not how many you reach that normally matters. It is who is doing the reaching—and who you reach. Though we pay lip service to democracy, a relatively small minority actually determine how we live. If you can influence a few of them—win them over—that can make all the difference. These thought leaders vary from field to field. Identifying them can be difficult. They like it that way. They respond when it is in their own interests to do so.
- Assembling a sound, fact-based, argument is not a waste of time. True, most people won’t be changed by it—we have become highly resistant to facts (thanks to social conditioning) but some of the people you really want to reach will be. It also benefits, you, the writer, greatly. Every time you assemble a case—whether you succeed or not—you get a little better.
- Just because you see no evidence of change doesn’t mean it is not happening. In fact, it has been my experience that it is just when you feel close to despair—are despairing—that change happens. It has a tendency to surprise—both in terms of timing and in its nature. You will rarely get exactly the result you want. That’s acceptable. If you are an iconoclast, you need to be pragmatic, adaptable, flexible, and persistent.
- Change requires sustained effort and much repetition. It is hard and endlessly frustrating. Most of us lack the necessary commitment. We are also better at the short term than the long term. As a species, we are pretty good at coping with our immediate needs. but poor at thinking strategically—even within the context of our extremely short lives.
- You can achieve vastly more if you don’t claim credit for change. Easier said than done because it is extraordinarily hard not to claim some credit from someone. It goes against human nature. We all want some degree of recognition. We want to think we have made a difference. Merely knowing it should be enough, but it rarely is. As with writing, we need the recognition of at least one other person. This need illustrates that fundamental truth. No one achieves anything entirely alone.
- As a working principle, it is always best if you give credit to others (even if, by implication, you claim a little credit yourself).
- Change, once it starts can happen very rapidly.
We really should think about change, and how to deal with it, a great deal more than we do. On the one hand, the pace of change is increasing rapidly—but our social structures are not adjusting to cope.
In our schools we tend to teach that there is only one way to do things or one version of the truth—and to discourage intellectual curiosity—whereas the opposite is what is required. Since the best way to teach is by example, our school system should be in a state of constant flux—changing everything from the school day to what is taught.
It isn’t. It clings on to a rigid, authoritarian, approach that has scarcely changed in a couple of hundred years.
We need to change this!
VOR words 969.