THE WINDS OF CHANGE
The winds of change are blowing all over the world but the answers for the world are not in the wind. Today’s world is changing at an accelerated rate with multi-tasking and information overload unlike anything past generations witnessed. Household electrical gadgets ease our lives. Computers, the Internet, communications satellites, genetic diagnostic tools, cell phones, PDAs, iPods, Wi-Fi Internet, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook facilitate communication across the globe at the touch of a key.
Most people can handle a certain amount of change and can cope well. But others, especially the elderly, can feel alienated in a rapidly changing world that is rapidly stressing them out. They only need to look at their children and grandchildren to notice that their world is no longer the same. Many in this group tend to think with a linear mindset. The sun rises and the sun sets. Twenty-four hours in a day. Week after week, month after month, everything seems about the same.
However this is deceptive. As time progresses, the world is changing at an exponentially increasing rate. Alvin Toffler described the effects of “too much change in too short a period of time” in his contemporary classic ‘Future Shock’. At that time, he predicted that people exposed to these rapid changes of modern life would suffer from “shattering stress and disorientation.” They would be, in his words, “future-shocked.”
When I retired from teaching in the very late 1900s, I did not own a hand-phone. I did not even know how to switch on a PC. A mouse was a disgusting, furry vermin with a long tail scurrying on the ground and windows were for letting in light and fresh air into buildings. Never could I have associated both with a PC. When my last batch of students described me as “duh”, their own unique teen lingo for “dumb”, I decided to change my mindset and take up a basic PC course after retirement. By God’s grace, this bulletin and the TSNRA blog are the end results of having a teachable spirit. It doesn’t matter that I was among the oldest and slowest students in that class being taught by a teacher young enough to be my grandson. I humbly plodded on at my own pace and continued learning on my own at home with the help of good and patient friends.
A teachable spirit within us will enable us to adapt to the winds of change. Closed minds that treat change and the modern media as something from another planet will be left behind. To some, it does not matter as they choose to continue living in an unreal old world where time stands still. Snail mails and phone calls remain their chief means of communication Unfortunately, even with all their past knowledge and experiences, there are those in leadership today with high education, closed minds and lack of wisdom. They have come to a standstill because they cannot change their mindsets to adapt to new ideas, or have stubbornly made up their minds not to learn anymore because they are too old. However, age is just a mindset, not a stumbling block.
Whatever they choose to do, they are forced to reckon with the winds of change. Even our Earth is constantly changing. Some changes are a natural part of the climate system, such as the seasonal expansion and contraction of the Arctic sea ice pack. The responsibility for other changes, such as the Antarctic ozone hole, falls squarely on humanity’s shoulders. Throughout history, governments and monarchies had risen and fallen. Globalization is a new phenomenon and terrorism is spreading worldwide. All around us we can see that the pace of life is speeding up, we are busier than ever, life is more complicated, nuclear families are disintegrating, divorce rates are rising, traditional beliefs and values are being challenged, the world is shrinking and our sense of community is disappearing.
This loss of community spirit affects us here in our Taman as well. It can threaten our safe neighborhood, everyday honesty, health and happiness. Why the loss of community? One factor is certainly our busy lifestyles. With people working longer hours, often on the weekends, we have less time for chats with the neighbours or for supporting community activities. For many people, social networking sites, chat rooms and other online venues have become their “community” of choice. Instead of face-to-face socializing with others, more and more people are spending their free time sitting in front of their computers. In the past, a whole village would be involved in community activities and watch out for one another’s children as they run around carefree. Today, our children are not safe outside our own gates.
Where does this leave us as a community? We already have quite an active Residents’ Association, one which we can be proud of. But without a community spirit, we can’t go very far. Even getting support for this bulletin has been a struggle and we only need to look at the small number of residents coming to help in our dengue gotong-royongs after lives have been lost to know that we do not really have a vibrant, caring, community spirit.
When the winds of change blow, how will we adjust our sails?