“Nothing ever changes” is the warcry of cynics everywhere.
Why vote? Nothing ever changes.
Why protest? Nothing ever changes.
Why care? Nothing ever changes.
On some level, this position is understandable. In the United States, for example, racial injustice, economic inequality, and sexism have abounded for decades with progress moving at a glacial pace, if at all. Corporations control the government and seem to be tightening their grip. Our two major corrupt parties and never allow room for any significant change. Even Barack Obama, campaigning on the message of “Change”, failed to implement any truly lasting and profound changes.
As we move through our lives, day to day, month to month, year to year, it often appears that nothing ever changes. We get our hopes up and have them dashed. A new policy proves to not be as transformative as we hope. We see people experiencing homelessness for decades – seemingly more and more every year.
It’s hard to imagine that things will change significantly. We imagine that the world when we die will be largely the same as the world we were born into it.
On another level though, this is a truly an absurd belief, demonstrably false. Imagine the world 100 years ago. Horses were still a common form of transportation. Air travel was still a novelty. Most women around the world weren’t allowed to vote. In that span, we’ve had two world wars, cured polio, put humans on the Moon, we put a hole in and then repaired the ozone layer, and on and on and one. In the decade before that, we created the toilet, saving literally millions of lives. We’ve developed.
Living today requires us to live in the paradox of technology evolving rapidly while main socioeconomic conditions seemingly stagnant and intractable. We have to balance the lived experience of slow, sometimes nonexistent change, with the historical fact of constant, profound change from a decades and centuries scale.
Perhaps most importantly, we have to acknowledge that the “nothing ever changes” warcry does not help. In fact, it enables our inaction. It allows us to justify doing nothing. If nothing ever changes, then we as individuals have no responsibility to do anything.
The most impactful change agents see both that our world is constantly changing and yet many of our deepest challenges are incredibly challenging to change. They take on the story of “nothing every changes without commitment and action.” In doing so, we flip the script from one of despair and cynicism to one of personal responsibility for the change we want to see.
(ran out of time. to be continued…)