June 9, 2013

The times they are a changin'

Editor’s note: The Press-Republican is suspending Colin Read’s column while he is a candidate for Clinton County Legislature. This will be his last column until after the November elections.

Six years of stagnation have broken six decades of steady growth. And, the Census Bureau calculates that minorities will become the majority by mid century.

As society evolves, demographically, ethnically and economically, we see norms today that were unimaginable a generation ago. Government is formulating a rational immigration policy, and individuals are increasingly accepted without regard for their sexual preferences. There are public discussions over other policies that were once almost impossible to discuss.

Some find change scary, some find change exciting, and for the rest, change finds them.

Regardless, there is a mounting need for economic evolution. Almost always, though, change is thrust upon us at the most inconvenient times.

Recognition that our society is evolving at a rapid pace occurs very rarely. Economic evolution arises not in affluent times, because citizens who enjoy abundant economic fruits are reluctant to tinker with success. Nor does change foment in normal times, when people are focused on attaining the American Dream. In fact, we usually only evolve in challenging times when we have exhausted every other alternative.

With apologies to Kris Kristofferson, change is often another word for nothing left to lose. We loosen the status quo only when it seems to fail. Many believe now is such a time. Still in the midst of a global financial meltdown, many people have lost confidence in a bright future.

Societal evolution adds more uncertainty. Wouldn’t it be easier if we would explore new possibilities when we are most comfortable and secure?

Our economy and society rarely cultivates universal buy-in on any proposal, especially those that propose change by taking from one group and giving to another. Only through a broad consensus can we forge enduring change. Yet, when so many are financially strapped and scared, how does one dare propose a better way?

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