Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The World Hates Change

"The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." - Charles Kettering

For the past four months I have had the privilege of working with the Upper Nicola Band near Merritt as Acting CEO of their Economic Development Corporation. Whether it is the Chief and Council, or the staff, all are anxious to help bring about a better way of life for their band membership as well as their region.

Upper Nicola Band’s new Chief Tim Manuel is very much pro-business development. Yet he retains a deep and spiritual connection to the land. In early August, just prior to my contract coming to an end, I had the honour of participating in a native sweat lodge ceremony with him.

It was an intense and profoundly moving experience on both a physical and spiritual level. I slept that night like a baby and a week later my skin still felt better than it had in many years because of all the toxins that had been sweated out of my body.

It is that balance, of embracing positive change while retaining values that bring out the best of us in people that is so needed in the world right now.

When it comes to religion, far too many fundamentalists reject the here and now and instead look to an afterlife as being where they will achieve peace and happiness. Whether it is evangelical Christians who celebrate the growing turmoil in the Middle East as signs of the second coming of Christ, or radical Muslims who are willing to blow themselves up and kill innocent women and children because they think that will grant them entry into heaven along with a multitude of virgins, these are people that have come to reject life and have instead embraced death.

These death cults, regardless of their nominal religious affiliation also tend to be driven by people who fear change and who yearn for some imagined afterlife based on a past simpler and/or better time that almost certainly never really existed.

The fact is a hundred years ago people in Canada were lucky to live to be 50 years old. There were diseases like polio, smallpox and tuberculosis to worry about. Many women did not survive childbirth and diseases like mumps, measles and rubella killed many children.

Is the world today perfect? Far from it. But right now notwithstanding the on-going turmoil in the Middle East this is pretty much the best the world has ever been. Change is occurring and most of it has been for the better. I know that barring some act of biological or nuclear terrorism the life my children have will be better than the one I have and certainly better than the ones their ancestors had.

So for the most part I welcome rather than fear change because the changes I have seen in my lifetime have generally been for the better rather than for the worse. But is most important that we also value this life that we have here on Earth and treat each other with respect.

Perhaps Mad Magazine put it best years ago when they wrote, “with all of these warnings of death doom and strife, it is hard to imagine a fate worse than life.”
Well I am enjoying my life and I encourage everyone else reading this column to do likewise and I hope you all had a very enjoyable summer.