For a variety of reasons, I am fond of boundaries and transitions not only in geography but also in temporal fashion, such as the darkening sky of the twilight, the transitions of spring and summer with their balancing act between heat and cooling, light and darkness, harvesting and planting, life and death. We see the same sort of temporal transitions in life as young people grow into adults and working adults retire and enter into a less active and more advisory role while others take the reins. There are occasions where this process goes well, and others where it goes extremely poorly. Much depends not only on the times that we face, but also how we deal with those changes.
As we are temporal beings who live but for a twinkling of an eye in the grand scheme of human history, such changes are inevitable. We will all grow older, no matter how much we may hate the passage of time, how little we may want to recognize the realities of such matters, or how little prepared we are for the changes that occur. Individually, we are all subject to the changes of the larger social and physical worlds we are a part of, and we have to deal with those changes whatever our feelings or opinions about those changes are. We may resist them, we may accommodate them, and we may enthusiastically support them. Whatever we do, though, we have to deal with them regardless.
Our behavior regarding changes depends in large part on our attitude towards those changes. Depending on how quickly we recognize and respond to changes, we can arrest their external development for some time, or perhaps even indefinitely. Doing so creates permanent strain on our institutions unless one side involved is completely destroyed or assimilated because of the force that we have to use to counteract those changes, strain that may be exhibited in a variety of forms, from outright and open hostility to low-intensity squabbling and acts of sabotage and resistance. Sometimes that strain may be considered worthwhile to control what is a perceived threat, but the strain wears on everyone involved in that kind of situation.
As a way of avoiding long-term difficulties, it is often advisable to deal with concerns at the earliest stage possible. If we allow too much time to build up before we address a concern, that concern has often become like a grain of sand in the mouth of an oyster that has become crystallized into fear, a much more difficult matter to deal with. Clearly, we do not always have the choice to deal with matters quickly, and we do not always deal with those matters wisely when we have the chance, but we ought to desire both to respect the sincerity of the concerns of others as well as the need to deal with matters both thoughtfully and quickly (the balance depending on the demands of the situation and one’s own resources).
Given that we cannot completely arrest the pressures to change in the world around us, we need to think wisely about how to deal with these matters. Do we encourage education and growth? Do we provide others the opportunity and freedom to develop their competence in handling personal responsibility to help avoid dependency? Do we show love and respect and concern for others or only for ourselves and our own wishes and desires? Do we deny the need to change how we relate to others as we and they transition into new roles and different ages and periods of life? These are all matters of great delicacy and importance, and it is all too easy to founder on the reefs presented by such challenges presented by a change in the weather. Let us hope to guide the ships of our lives and our institutions safely through these reefs and adverse winds.