Friend-Of-This-Blog Eaton Rapids Joe had a great post on an old truth: that we can never change other people, only ourselves (yes, it is the summary, but should still go read it). It was a timely reminder for me because I have found myself frustrated, especially earlier in my life, with the concept of changing people.
One might say obsessed, actually.
I am not truly sure where this derives from. It is not as if I am someone that seeks power over others to make them change, but neither have I been able to completely just "let people be".
I have become more aware of this issue and the levels of frustration that it causes lately in my life. Circumstances have led me here: the frustration of Hammerfall 2.0, the frustration of what appears to be a delayed relocation, the frustration of watching the world around me shamble its way towards its own self-fulfilling prophecies.
Part of it derives from simple human nature, I am sure: in some form or fashion, we all start out believing that we change people. Originally it starts with simple things like emotion or logic; when it goes poorly it moves into anger and force. But I do not wonder if another part of it is due to the oddity of the post-modern world.
Our technological post-modern world has given us the opportunity to "change" all kinds of things. We have changed the speed of travel (from foot and horseback to cars and airplanes), changed the climate surrounding us (via central heating and air conditioning), changed information and knowledge (through the InterWeb and availability of almost the entire breadth of human knowledge to anyone with a computer or smart phone), and changed our relationship with our health (via all kinds of advances in technology). Add to this that, even as we speak, all kinds of commencements and graduations are occurring right now where young people are being told they can "change the world".
Change, it seems, is one of the new birthrights of the modern era. And if all that can be changed, why not other people?
That is likely where the older and greyer simply shake their heads.
For change to work and be effective in the human mind and heart, the individual has to want to change. They have to "turn over a new leaf" or "be born again". Something has to happen internally for there to be that update in operating systems (to turn a modern phrase) for this to occur. And we, as individuals, have zero direct control over that sort of update in others
To ERJ's point in his fine post, we can find ways to continue to be effective in what we need to be about without endlessly waiting for others to change. It requires ingenuity on our part sometimes, and sometimes even an almost emotionless management of the situation with the larger goal in mind. Just as in any kind of organization individuals learn to manage down, manage around, and manage up, so we too have to do this in everything we do.
I do not know that I fully grasped this before.
We can literally pass our lives waiting for others to change. Or we can simply get up and be about our business, nodding and being engaging while we move forward. Like most things, the choice is up to the only people we can truly control: Ourselves.