Here we are on Election Day, with one candidate talking about going forward …changing the way things have been done in the past, and the other candidate talking about change …going from big government to smaller government and a balanced budget.
President Barack Obama says going forward will help his policies take hold. There will be health care for more people, young people will find college more affordable, federal regulations on banks and financial institutions should help consumers. Change…that’s all change…
And Governor Mitt Romney says he will balance the budget. That sounds good, except that with a balanced budget and less spending, somebody is going to suffer. Less spending usually means less spending on programs that help the masses. Although economists say that less spending should be accompanied by more taxes, it feels like the emphasis will be on less spending, which means …change.
Change, no matter which way it comes, hurts. Joan Chittister, in her book Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope,” writes that “change means movement. Movement means friction.” But, she says, change is necessary because it is in change that we grow. If we cling to the present, she writes, we “cut off the wings to the soul.” Every day we should be “growing into more” or else we “retreat into less,” says Norman Mailer.
So this change in our country …whether it’s from President Obama or Gov. Romney…is a sign of life.
Thing is, we resist change. Collectively and individually, we resist it. We grow comfortable in our spaces, even if those spaces are not good for us, even if those spaces are toxic. To change means we willingly engage in struggle, and struggle is wearying. We would rather vegetate, even though we wail about things not being right. We wail, but we do not want to do the work of change. Too much friction. We don’t want scarred knees.
If the truth be told, President Obama has brought about a lot of change. Many have not like it; there was movement and therefore, friction, lots of it. There wasn’t as much change as he wanted, but there has been change. And if Gov. Romney wins, there will be change that will rub lots of us the wrong way. There will be friction and struggle; there will be scarred knees.
But that means that there’s life. Where there is no movement, there is no life. Where there is no change, there is no life, either. Change comes unannounced and uninvited too often; in fact, because we resist change so much, the only way change can really happen oftentimes is if it DOES come uninvited. The good thing about presidential politics is that we know that with whomever is in the White House, there will ALWAYS be some kind of change that’s going to rub someone the wrong way. Sometimes, the change, like FDR’s New Deal, helps the masses, and sometimes, the change helps far fewer people. But we know change will come, whomever wins.
In our personal lives, change has to crash through our protective doors, invade our spaces of familiarity in order to get our attention. Change has to force us out of saucers and onto the ground; it has to make the scales fall from our eyes so that we can see what we have been trying hard not to see, and make us break into a jog instead of shuffling along where we’ve always been, satisfied.
In the case of politics, our country doesn’t decide to become new; the election of a new president forces newness upon us. But in our own lives, change, if we embrace it, means that we decide to become new, that we “do the work,” as Iyanla Vanzant says. The essence of struggle, says Chittister, “is neither endurance nor denial. The essence of struggle is the decision to become new rather than to simply become older.”
Well, if that’s the case, and if more people could and would understand change as an opportunity and not a curse, then perhaps we wouldn’t avoid the struggle so much…and just get into the process.
And even in the case of the changes thrust upon us by each president, perhaps it might help us and our country if we would accept some of the changes with a little less resistance. We might benefit from that.
A candid observation…