I think one of the failings of our contemporary world is the adoption of the enlightenment principle that change is progress and all change is therefore good. I think this comes from the enlightenment (enlightenment is a name put into use by its promoters and I can’t help but reflect that this name is often misleading – the dark ages, another name brought in by promoters of the enlightenment, are not all dark and the enlightenment is not all light). Anyway, is all change really good?
I think if any of us reflect for a moment we would soon conclude that all change is not always for the good. As I grow older my eyesight is changing for the worse. for instance. When people close to me die it leaves a great gap in my heart that I cannot bring myself to declare is a good gap. A pandemic brings a great deal of change and whilst some of it might seem to be good I can’t help but feel an awful lot of people would be better off it it had never happened. No, not all change is good.
I think then we can very quickly conclude that not all change is progress. This may seem obvious to you but bear with me. There are those who will criticise those of us who want to hold on to some things, because they are in our estimation good, and accuse us of being against progress and change. They will tell us that we are ‘old stick in the muds’ who don’t want any kind of progress. Now maybe at times that is true of me (I don’t like it when they put things in a different place in the supermarket or when my favourite TV show is moved to a different time – for instance) but in most cases, this is certainly not true.
In technology terms, for instance, where finances have allowed I have been an early adopter. I was an early adopter of the personal computer and the world wide web. I even played a part in moving the world wide web on with some of the programming projects I was involved in. I accept that as I get older the shine has gone from some of the early technology projects I see today but I am very much in favour of progress (that is change for the better). However, I am also very opposed to change for the worse.
How do we decide what is change for the worse? It is difficult. Some things don’t really reveal their worse nature till they have become the established way. So it requires two things in particular.
- A good understanding and appreciation of history. Quoting Winston Churchill (yes I know others said the same thing before him but this is the one from Churchill): “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
- A good dose of wisdom (wisdom is, of course, the ability to think through a subject in depth and then come to a reasoned conclusion based on an unprejudiced understanding – or, in short, agreeing with me).
- I’m going to add a third thing – for me the most important. A strong belief in God in Christ. God has given us scripture to help us in making these choices. I don’t apologise for this belief but I understand you may not share it.
So we should be in favour of progress but not all change is progress and some change is bad.