Nothing can stand still. The universe will not allow it.
I’m not sure when creatures began chafing at the idea of change, developed that sinking feeling of concern and fear of the “other” trying to change things up. I can’t say if the creatures at the end of the Mesozoic lived harmoniously with their mammalian neighbors or if they feared and tried to crush them (eat them) sunup to sundown. I doubt the mammals celebrated when their reptilian neighbors faced their final sunset. They just went about their business of being mammals, no protest signs for miles.
I often (so very often) think about our earliest kin. What did it look like when an established status quo is challenged? How long did the shift take? “No no no, we’re not going to change things. We’ve always done it this way, always will. Seen what happens when we do not do things as we’ve always done: calamity! I am in charge of this tribe, this society, and I will not let my tribe fear, or suffer, or perish. Fall in line, get out…or die!” I can only imagine what would create such a situation, oh great fodder for novel and cinema.
Collisions, retractions. The universe. Dark matter. Stars. Solid matter, planets, atmospheres, life. Quartz. A meteor. Sand. Slavery. A White House made of sandstone. World War II. A man on the moon. Born in ’68. Reagan shot, the Wall came down, I kissed some boys. The internet showed me a world where tyrants and freedoms both come and go, in real time, not just words on the sour-smelling pages of my textbooks filled with black and white photos of things I never saw firsthand. Yawn. It was the simple, narrow view of a young person living from September to September.
Change means we either adapt or fight it because we are afraid to let go of what we’ve known for generations. I feel like we are at the end of a status quo, when those in power are afraid to lose their hold on the world. Slowly, slowly things have begun to change, and the pushback is growing loud and louder, shaping our fears–and our laws, all laws, across the world. Terrible things have been done in the name of holding on to the way it’s always been, protected by proverbs, maxims, idioms, laws scrawled on a page, well-meaning words at the time, trying to protect all souls from the scourge of the hell they all feared.
This morning I contemplate remarks made by a president-elect, suggesting that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is obsolete. I contemplate his vision for this country, and I’m not sure he understands that what he says reverberates, makes ripples, causes heads to rise and words to swell like tsunami. I see a childlike person who believes the world should operate on simple terms, fair vs. unfair, prepared to negotiate a better deal or else. I contemplate the domino effect his words and views will have, and I wonder could it lead to something worse, or something better? The world has been operating under a very specific status quo, and I can tell you for sure it’s not been written by the people who are fleeing their borders because their children were murdered in their beds. Everything changes, and perhaps status quo is tipping now, changes will be made, and who can say if the world will get better or worse because of it? Perhaps things have to get worse before they can get better? Is it fair for us to make America a “no change” zone, where everything stays the same, hiding behind a well-meaning Constitution? That the White House is eternal and will never be replaced by a better terrain? That only white, Christian males get to hone our country based on their views, because if we let an unsmiling black woman on the ten dollar bill it’s the end of the world?
Change is painful. It is bloody ugly. But the salt I sprinkle on my meat for health and delight wasn’t just born on a shelf. We create, and our fruits come from reflection and pain. Perhaps it’s not my right to hold back change if it will lead to destruction–and rebirth. A better world awaits, after the hurts we will live through, question mark… or fullstop
We don’t find change hiding in the grass like sneaky little easter eggs on some sweet April morning. It’s not dropped into our arms like a babe from the stork. Change is viper strike on a hot summer day. It means hurting first. We have to be brave enough to peel our fingers from the pillars of what our ancestors have always known, strong enough to live evolve and work together as we change. I only hope enough people are willing to meet me at Ozymandias and know better things will come. But it will only come if we recognize that tyrants will never last, not even the sand will last. We will not last. But we must make a better future for the grains of sand that haven’t yet come.