“… Oh, she has changed so much!”
“… It is beyond recognition now!”
“… He doesn’t look like his old self!”
“… The city is not what it used to be!”
… Why is it, that we don’t like the change to be there – to the person, place or thing that we once knew, once we associated with? Why don’t we appreciate the change – knowing fully well that change is inevitable?
Just a few weeks back one of my friends returned after a tour to home town. As happens in all such cases, she complained about the home town, “… Patna is in ruins! It is hard to connect to it any more!” Since yours truly also comes from that same town, the comment was not taken well.
“Patna is in ruins?”
“…Ruins? Ruins of what kind? … Nalanda, Harappa or Babylonian kind of ruins?”
So, I shot back, “I disagree with you; the chaos that is apparent there to any superficial onlooker is part of rebuilding process only!”
Well, it may be part of the process of rebuilding or not – leave this matter to people who are aware of the geopolitical background and the history of the place, but what struck me through this dialogue was the rigidity to accept the inevitability of change.
WHAT IS CHANGE?
Change is defined as the process of becoming different in respect of time, person, place or thing. It also includes the social change as well as biological metamorphosis. Change is universal. Change is dynamic. Change is motion. Identity is static. Motion or Change and Identity or Rest is the basic secrets of the laws of nature – a kind of “mother of all the laws” of nature. Nothing endures but change.
There are many TYPES of change, like consistent or inconsistent, based on duration – short lived, long standing, permanent, related to the cause – Automatic or induced, related with object that is changing – change of Identity, change of personality etc. There can be definite change – like a baby growing to become adult, a seed growing to become a tree or it can be indefinite – like those of radioactive elements.
“… Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Naught may endure but Mutability.”
WHAT & WHY WE CRIB ABOUT?
The problem with us human beings is that we have very high mental inertia and we start associating with the things as they are, at that particular time of observation, forgetting it wasn’t the same earlier than that. We make a picture of the person, place, thing or traits in respect to the time at that moment and keep this in our mind thinking that it will remain frozen in exact state for ever. But everything is in perpetual state of motion, it is always changing – It doesn’t remain the same any two given moments. It is our paranoid state of mourning – when we come across the same person, place, thing or trait a different time and don’t find it exactly the same, bound by the same descriptions – that produce this sense of loss or detachment or bereavement form previous picture – cause us to yearn for the old one and also causes the non acceptance of the new. May be it is because of our subconscious belief in the controversial theory of persistence of substance as put forth by Aristotle and others. Aristotle argued that change is distinct from time because change occurs at different rates, whereas time does not! We know this is simply not true and these are basically independent of each other also. By “Change” we don’t just mean “Temporal Change”!
The phrase “Cambridge change” seems to be due to Geach (1969), who so named it to mark its employment by great Cambridge philosophers such as Russell and McTaggart. According to this theory, a Cambridge change in a thing is a change in the descriptions truly borne by the thing. Now this can be explained by following the analytical technique of re-casting philosophically important discussions and concepts in the meta-language. It is apparent that Cambridge change includes all cases ordinarily thought of as change, such as change of color, from “red” to “non-red.” But it also includes changes in the relational predicates of a thing, such as when you change from being “non-brother” type to being “brother” type, just when your mother gives birth to a second offspring. It might seem faintly paradoxical that there need be no other change in you (like – height, weight, color, memories, character, thoughts) in this circumstance, but it is simply a consequence of the above piece of meta-linguistic ascent – there was change in your mother and you are related to her so the change in her changed you too. It does point up, though, that in attempting to capture the object-language concept, one should take note of the distinction between the Monadic or Internal or Intrinsic properties of a thing, and its relations or External or Extrinsic features. Thus the natural view of change is that real, metaphysical change in a thing would be change in the monadic or internal or intrinsic properties of the thing only, where as in reality, it affects the external links also.
THE SHIP OF THESEUS
The “problem of change and identity” is generally explained with the story of the Ship of Theseus:-
In ancient times, there was a ship, called the “Theseus” after its famous former owner. As the years wore on, the Theseus started getting weak and creaky. The old boards were removed, put into a warehouse, and replaced with new ones. Then, the masts started tottering, and soon they, too, were replaced. And in this way, after fifty years, this ship now has all new boards, masts, and everything. The question now arises Is, whether the ship in the harbor – now called SHIP-02, the same ship as the ship that was in the harbor, fifty years ago – called SHIP-01, for convenience? In other words, is SHIP-02 really the “Theseus”? … Just think about it!
WHY DO WE NOT RELATE WITH THE CITIES ANYMORE, WE DID EARLIER?
Any society, which has got a large superfluous population, has its own dynamics. The city has to adapt itself continuously to the demands of its population. The architecture may also change according to that requirement. We may cherish the memories of our friendly neighbourhood convenient store for long but if that is replaced by a mall, we should not complain about it. It is serving the requirements of the present generation. Just try to remember the skylines of Manhattan two centuries ago and compare that with today’s. It did not change without reason, did it? The cities were not static even then, when we used to dwell in, there. Just because then changes took place in front of our eyes, we adapted well to them – and now we cannot even relate! Community organizations and other service providers do change with time. Smart people generally stand free and unconstrained in nature; they change gracefully with the every change in the old picture. The old order gives way to the new order in every society. It is the mode of transition that affects our sentiments however. If the transition was smooth, we hardly notice it. If the transition was turbulent or abrupt, we do not forget it – because then, it does not conform to the old perceptions. The question also arises as to what sort of change take place after something looses existence or when all connections have been accepted as LOST. We never say, after the death of a person, “He just isn’t the same sort of guy since his death.” Because we have accepted the loss of all the relations with the person after his death. Similarly, till the time a city ceases to exist or we have lost all connections with it, we can say, “… Oh, I do not relate with it any more!”
ACCEPTING THE CHANGE
“The key to change is … to let go of fear!”
The major cause for non acceptance of change is our fear for the unknown. We generally don’t want to be associated with something that is uncertain or something that can have unpleasant outcome. But the city may change for good, or for bad – the change has to be accepted. He, who rejects the change, is the architect of decay and he, who accepts, understands and welcomes it is the messiah of progress. There are well known stages of acceptance of change and these are – Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance in this sequence. The denial of the change is in fact the denial of the very existence. It can also be said as a corollary to the preceding line here that the only place where change does not occur is in grave. Or is it so? We know now, even in graves, change takes place.
Even though we all have changed and we are all finding our places in the world, we all resent the perceived changes in others, though we know also that when the tears fall or the smiles spread across our face, we’ll come to each other only – because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where we are not all still friends.
… Are you listening, My dear friend?