Our Eyes Were Opened

Permanent Change is Slow and Gradual

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Permanent change is slow and gradual.

This concept is extremely frustrating for those of us who like quick fixes. We want a magic wand to make the world a better place (as we define it) with one wave of our wrist. Unfortunately, change just does not work that way.

Think about your own situation. How many New Year’s resolutions have you managed to keep more than a couple of weeks? Now think about a change that requires lots of players to be involved: governmental entities, laws, businesses, ordinary citizens, and educational systems. Then add changes in perceptions, prejudices, and myths, not to mention increases in understanding about how others think and believe?

No wonder change is slow and gradual. There’s also a reason not to push change too fast. When change happens quickly, it may not last. People will not have the time to incorporate the reasons for change into their deepest ways of thinking. When change happens too quickly, it is very easy for people to revert to the “old way of doing things” as soon as the outside change agents are no longer around. However, when the changes are being guided and nurtured from the inside, then true change can happen. But that’s a very hard thing to do.

An example of the difficulty of making changes:  Until the late 1940s and early 1950s, a lot of people, especially in the South, still used outhouses for their hygiene needs. The law was changed so that bathrooms now had to be attached to the house. Many neighborhoods ended up with little rooms attached to the back of their houses. These appendages enclosed a sink and a toilet. The door to the room opened to the outside. The bathroom did not have a door that opened right into the house.

Why was that? If you think about it, the reason is extremely practical and reasonable. Think. Why would families want their bathrooms to open to the outside?

Because they were used to going to the outside to go to the bathroom. The thought of having their bathroom as part of their house was just nasty.

Today, having bathrooms in a house is standard operating procedure. And unlike in the 1950s when most families had one bathroom, now houses have multiple bathrooms, sometimes more bathrooms than there are people living there.  What a change.

But that change took many years before what is “normal” became what we define as “normal” today.                

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Author: bethltempleton

Beth is founder and CEO of Our Eyes Were Opened, an organization that teaches people about poverty so that they may reach out with wisdom and compassion.

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