Times and Traditions Change

Driven by the inherent tensions of a dynamic environment, every generation produces its crop of “seers” proclaiming the “end of the world”. We have seen a few of these only recently. From leaders of religious sects to perusers of the Mayan calendar, all proclaiming various end-times scenarios. Whether religious or quasi-scientific, these eschatological prognostications may all be traceable (in our psyches) back to the anxieties related to an inability to deal with inevitable changes in the natural, political, cultural, spiritual, and social order of things.

One may observe, on further examination, that such predictions are a result of the clashes between inescapable chronological /historical realities and our kairotic under-development. In other words, when we are unable to reconcile the changes around us with our own inability to grow, our worlds come crashing in. The events that mark these critical developments in human history are well documented in the transitional epochs of various societies and civilizations. The revolutions and other social upheavals that mark these transitions remain lessons we must continue to learn from.

We cannot escape the consequences of our proverbial “dogma” being over-run by our “karma”; when our unwillingness to adjust our point of view makes coping almost impossible. So, for example, in a culture where racism proliferates, a person of the oppressed class ascending to the highest office in the land presents those who insist on maintaining the status quo with a crisis of gargantuan proportions. It happens in economies where workers rise in revolution against bosses who make more in a day than they make in a year. The world as they know it ends, and the readjustments necessary to cope with the new reality is, to say the least, overwhelming.

The same thing happens in the cultural/political environment when persons of the same gender begin to insist on the same conjugal rights as heterosexuals; or the female politician in a patriarchally oriented society insists on the shattering of the “glass ceiling” of male dominated pre-eminence.  It happens when “widow cleansing” is called by its real name “abuse”, wherever it occurs. It happens when women and girls insist on going to school when the males of those societies would rather they be uneducated and subservient. Why can’t women be priests and bishops and cardinals and pope? I would ask why homosexuals are rejected for ordination, but you would laugh at me, and rightly so.

It is this crisis that drives reactionary groups having to deal with a new cultural/political reality to announce that they have come to take their country “back”. This backwardness of which they speak is not just a function of chronology, as in “back to a time when”; it also expresses a wanting to repeal the socio/political/ cultural advances that they now see as a threat to an old status-quo. It is what happens in the shift of power that then makes meaningful the declaration that every person “has a right to determine her/his own destiny”.

The demands of change are no respecters of persons and their philosophical positions. Change moves us to an examination of all our positions. The only thing sacred in this process is its necessity. For every finger pointed, three points back at our own “sacred cows”. Change necessitates a thorough examination of our most dearly held biases. It forces conversations about our held beliefs on family, religion, gender and sexuality, race and nationalistic claims, and all the alliances we have come to take for granted. It calls into question all the convenient  positions that we have built to maintain the status quo in our lives as individuals, groups, and nations.