As much as we complain about change, when we don’t have it, we know something is wrong. This is part of what is happening in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan today. When people don’t feel the momentum and pulse of change that helps make their own lives a little better each day, they get weary and frustrated.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times hinted that what is happening in northern Africa may be something like the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 80s. Once the first domino falls, the momentum is unstoppable.
This kind of change is good, but there is a price to pay for it. It’s kind of like a natural disaster hitting an area. The ecologists have been studying this for decades, and the biggest lesson they have to teach is about “looseness” and variability.
Ecosystems have lots of variety in them, and that is the very secret to their success. When floods or fires hit, some hardy little plant and animal creatures survive, start to come back first, and then bring along all the other critters and plant life over time.
“Stay loose” isn’t just a cool slogan, it’s the secret to resilient living.
In general, democracies tend to have more variability and looseness in them—lots of opinions get heard, and arguments are had. These democracies don’t have to be perfect, but they do need an element of “we’re all in this together”, and the support and sharing, including differences, that comes with it.
Depending on how mature a democracy is—be it nation, family or business—it will be in various states of democratic functioning. Truth is, we all need a lead dog now and again to create order when things get chaotic. But a lead dog that stays there too long, and robs people of their creativity and their contribution—well, that can’t last forever.
So change is in the air. It could get rough for a while, but we know about that as Americans. A super speech, delivered by Michael Douglas in the movie The American President, puts it perfectly:
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad, cause it’s going to put up a fight.”
As we all know, change of any kind puts up a fight. And it’s good for us, because it forces us to decide how much we want it, and to find the best way to shout it out to the world and make it happen.
So let’s not judge the change afloat, or how or why it’s happening. Let’s learn from it, and remember that variety is the name of the game. It gives us different opinions, it improves how we explain ourselves and improves our logic and our ability to bring about the very change we desire.
By looking hard at the differences we will eventually find some common ground, and that is where positive action comes from. When we all agree to start somewhere, then change is really possible. Let’s stay tuned…