The Adversary of Change: Acceptance
Posted by Alan Tucker
“Daddy, why do people die?”
I look down at my six-year-old daughter. Her bright red hair is pulled back in a sloppy ponytail and a dusting of freckles dots her nose and cheeks. How can such a such a serious question come from something that personifies adorable? “It’s hard to say, Honey. As our bodies grow and age, things start to wear out I guess. Kind of like the doll you got last Christmas. You played and played with it until the hair fell out and the arm fell off so many times we just couldn’t fix it anymore.”
“Yeah,” she says, pausing to blow the seeds off a dandelion and watch them flutter away in the wind. “But why do people wear out?”
“I don’t know, Sweetheart. Some things we just have to accept because we can’t change them.”
* * * * *
Sometimes I think back to those days when my kids were young and regret explanations like that. True though they may be at times, they encourage us to stop asking, “Why?” When we’re little, every utterance is a question. Eventually, even the most well-meaning parents tire of answering the ceaseless queries and the “That’s just the way it is” answers start to come out. After enough answers like this, children become less verbally inquisitive and the parents breathe a sigh of relief, but is this really a good thing? I can only imagine having a small child now.
“Daddy, why are those people fighting on TV?”
It’s a question that deserves an answer, but is it an answer we can give? How can we explain race relations, or income inequality, or religious persecution to a child without quickly coming to a spot where we give up and say, “I don’t know, that’s just the way it is, Sweetie.”
Unfortunately, what seed does that plant in our children’s minds? Social issues have no solution. Just accept them. That’s the way it is.
Can we afford to accept these problems any longer? Reach inside and draw on your inner child. Allow yourself to ask, “Why?”
And when figures of authority answer with, “That’s the way it is,” don’t accept it as an answer, because it’s not. Be persistent.
Science has progressed throughout our history because some people refused to accept conventional wisdom at face value. They repeatedly asked, “Why?” until they found answers to satisfy them. And later, those answers were questioned once again. Elements of science fiction such as artificial intelligence and warp drive are becoming teasingly close to becoming science fact. Who knows what other things we previously thought impossible will someday become commonplace?
In order to affect social change, we have to approach it in the same manner. Question why. Why are people, living in the richest country in the world, subjected to conditions that resemble life from two centuries ago? Why are we uncomfortable interacting with people who are different from us? Why does that discomfort seem to always lead to violence?
The cycle can only stop if we refuse to accept it.