“Not everyone who chased the zebra caught it, but he who caught it, chased it.” – South African proverb
We are at the centre of an evolving life. As a matter of fact, we have a better, dramatic, diverse and far-reaching influence on the evolutionary process than we can imagine. Our induced activities – including hunting, farming, fishing, pollution, biological invasions, gene modification, eutrophication, urbanisation and habitat fragmentation – have hastened the evolutionary wheel to spin a lot more quickly. But what does that mean to us?
Firstly, it reveals to us that we need to ensure our actions have a positive influence on the various contexts in which we find ourselves. Interestingly, like everything about life, we sure want the best; but we want it on our terms. As emotional beings, that is what natural;y comes to us. Thus, the tug in our hearts sounds more like “if it is my way, hopefully it shall be better for me”. It is more matter of ‘having it good is so much more exciting than being good’. And many of us simply go with this flow without analysing the effect our actions actively have on life as a whole.
However, lessons from those who have unthinkingly damaged their physical health reveal that once the damage is done the road to full recovery can never be achieved. Indeed, this lesson should be in our forethoughts when making decisions. That is what real change is all about. It is for us to take away the urgency of our busy-ness, and perhaps then we might just have enough time and space to lean back and reflect on the invitation to change the lessons which illness teaches us.
The beauty of life is its cyclical nature. It is made of ‘times and seasons’ which rotate and revolve around our attitudes. That is why change is an ongoing process wherein we need to be renewed time and again. The lure of our emotions is often too strong for rationality to rise to the top. The ‘feel-good’ syndrome easily distracts us. It is who we are. Thus, each new day offers us opportunities to re-orientate our attitudinal compasses to the true north – the virtuous and creative individual.
Real change is a call to fill the valleys and level the hills in our lives. It is a figurative reference to the egoistic acts in our attitudes. Given the experience that once you have seen something you cannot ‘un-see’ it, or that a mistake made cannot be ‘unmade’, it is important that we cultivate an always-on-work-in-progress approach to life. Not only would this push us to the middle-ground between our emotions and rationality, but it would also inspire us to check and double-check our decisions before we act on them.
The importance we give to change is a measure of the depth of our need for a better life in a more just society. Put simply, the more one feels the need for change, the more one might go the extra mile in actually changing. Thus, real change is more of a ‘metanoia’. It extends beyond the physical to the spiritual. It is more a transformation or an adaptation that happens after one is moved to act rightly and ethically after a deep reflection on the impacts of his or her past actions. It is re-thinking rather than a pang of guilt.
The notion of change is really an evaluative exercise. It is a deep re-think of what it means to be human. For it to be effective, it should be a daily exercise because it helps us to cultivate a conscience, suppress our emotions and inspire a position whereby our words are not just ethical but also in sync with our actions. It is more like a pause for reassessment, and at the same time an activity filled with the potential for a profound interior renewal. Regrettably, many of us spend our meditative moments on re-enforcing our biases rather than seeking an awareness of how our actions negatively impact life.
The fundamental reason for the call to change is inspired by the notion that a transformation within an individual always flows into improved relationships with others. Change is deeply communitarian. A changed person is more like an essence, a spice that positively flavours our humanity for the best. Thus, the call for change is also a call for us to increase and improve our knowledge-base in order to nurture a deepened perception of life in relation to recognising the greater good and that which is best for us in our flourishing. It will always entail questioning about that which is good, truthful and beautiful in order to lead us down the path of freedom and justice.
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true by helping them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]