By Craig Funston
You would think that I could “change” my subject matter, now heading into my third installment “on change,” wouldn’t you?
Maybe I should launch into wordplay, one my favourite games (as you know). For example, if you”change” your clothes in private, can you “change” your mind in public? And would “ex-change” be money you once had in your pocket, but now it’s missing? Or has it been switched with a purchase?
Or try this one: When a traffic light “changes,” what does it change into, a banana? Strange: It’s still a traffic light, isn’t it?
On a slightly higher level, when is it good to change, and when is it not? Philosophers have been asking that question for millenniums. Now it looks like a county-famous columnist is doing the same thing…
Take any retailer or technocrat: If they were lost in the ’40s and ’50s (like me), where would we be today? While you’re at it, ask any change agent in medicine, education, and banking the same question. You’d find they all strongly embrace some sort of change.
Speaking of bankers: Would they like deal with more than “spare” change?
So, yes, there is a place and time for change, but we all need to know the when, the why, and the what, don’t we?
Another factor to be considered is that change simply for change sake may be an indication that there may be some scruples or principles issues lacking here. Not always, but certainly worth thinking about.
Politicians, for instance, are prone to change positions on policies because switching may get them more votes. It’s a simple math equation: more votes likely means more time in power. And that would include politicians of any stripe (left, right, or on the fence). However, in my opinion, change for personal political advancement is highly questionable.
Retailers are another example of change agents: They will change inventory because they want to attract a certain type of customer (ie., one who spends more money), or one who has a lot of friends. Fair enough; that’s sound business sense, but to what extent? And what ends up being compromised? In other words, to what degree will they will relax principals simply to attract more customers?
There is a place for keeping up with the times, even in other contexts: sometimes books need to be updated, procedures need to be improved, or displays need to be modified. I would add a caveat here: Just so long as the foundational information and truth is not altered only for the purpose of caving in to the latest trend.
While the approach may be tweaked, the underlying truth should not. I think that’s pretty reasonable. Back to the traffic light illustration: The change is cosmetic only, while the underlying function and duty remains the same. They just “go with the flow,” if you will.
But in terms of the bigger, deeper picture, we must remember that what was right back then should still be right today. What was for the good of the populace back then should still be for the good of the populace today. Truth, virtue, and ethics should never be altered for the sake of expediency.
I appreciate that my argument may sound over-simplistic, but remember what I said a couple columns ago? Re-stated: Keep your word, manage your money, monitor your choices, and enjoy your journey. And let “change” be the path, not the detour.
You need to ask yourself any number of questions, and this applies to your private world as well as your public world: Is there a right or wrong here? Will there be any unnecessary or debilitating harm done? Perchance there is a moral or ethical issue?
Pause for a moment and think how life would be different—better, of course—if our leaders in business, politics, entertainment, even sports (oh wait, I already said “entertainment”)–ask themselves these questions. Let’s throw in all forms of authority, even yourself, while we’re at it.
You might be in for a pleasant surprise…for a change.