The first tip to deal with change is to remain unchanged, in your basic character and values. Never cease to be yourself. Never let the unexpected, often unwelcome changes push you to become something or someone you are not. Our circumstances may change, our challenges may be daunting, and we may face situations that tempt us to morph into another person or personality. But we must resist.
There are those on the political right that I have obvious disagreements with and yet I could see them as reasonable people. Some I would see as not so reasonable but at least their prejudices and societal blind spots were not extreme. But then 9-11 happened and that all went out the window. I saw an explosion of hatred, bigotry, and paranoia. Islamaphobia and condemnation of the “other” flowed out from them and caught fire, staining many others associated with them. And it also brought in guilt by association – what I call 9-11 emotional blackmail. It narrowed their definition of love of country and patriotism which had me wary of flag-waving and “USA, USA ” chants.
I was surprised at the change, but then I realized that they really hadn’t changed. The prejudice and bigotry and fear of the “other” had been there all along. It just needed an incident to burst into an open flame, an excuse to become “acceptable”. It was subtle before and you had to ponder and dig to discover it, but now it was out in the open, proud and angry. It was not new it was just exposed.
In contrast 9-11 did not change me. I did become more aware of the level of pain and inequality in the world and the lengths to which some, deprived of legitimate actions and feeling powerless, would react to try to bring about change. It made me more aware of the efforts we need to take to protect what we hold dear. But it did not change who I am deep down. The lessons I learned from my parents and the values of inclusion and acceptance of all no matter who they were, where they were from, h9w they looked, spoke, or worshipped did not change. I remain who I am.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t adjust our procedures and ways to respond to danger or how we prepare to confront violence. Even though if the screeners had enforced their existing procedures at the airports’ none of it would have happened. The hijackers used box cutters – something that should have been detected by any functioning metal detector with a competent inspector.
So when you encounter a change, especially unexpected or drastic, remember who you are. Stick to your values and make sure the changes you make in response don’t compromise who you are. Breathe deeply, take time to reflect, and then act in a manner true to who you are.