We all live in a world characterized by constant change and if we really want conjugality and consensus, we should remain prepared for compromises. In fact, life is a series of compromises and the ones who learn this lesson well, find life giving them pleasure and relief. As we all know, the universe is on flux, the wheel of time is ceaselessly moving and whatever we find new today does have the possibility of becoming old tomorrow. For peace and goodwill, for concord and solidarity, adjustments are necessary since ‘change’ is the law of nature. As dawn changes into dusk, childhood into youth, spring into autumn and even extreme anger into cheerful smile, this change is both natural and essential. However, none can deny the fact that we may get so attuned to conventions and old customs as social beings, and that it may persuade us to get modified into the new realities emerging with time. The question is, why should we adjust to the changes that we encounter in life?
You might have heard of Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson, who used the legend of King Arthur as a model in his poems to measure the sense of decency and morality he found in the increasingly industrialized society of his century. During the last moments of King Arthur’s life, just before his death, he says to Sir Bedivere that the change is the order of the universe and nothing remains fixed all the time as in “The old order changeth, yielding place to new”. King Arthur’s saying has now widely recognized as a forceful proverb foregrounding on the notion that the human civilization is going through changes, and things would have come to a standstill if they had not changed with the passage of time. Similarly, as the British theologian Richard Hooker emphasizes, the change is not made without inconvenience even from worse to better, and hence, customs and concepts too undergo steady processes of transformation that everyone should be accorded with.
It is true that the outbreak of COVID-19 has caused a huge shift in our way of life and the global responses to the current pandemic situation are amplifying the dynamics that propel other social behaviours. Just think about how people are adapting to the “new normal” under the lockdowns, isolations and social-distancing etc. Our work, home, learning and social life have all been altered and subjected to drastic changes where we have learned to get compromised and accustomed to a plethora of novel habits to live with. The air is fresh but we are forced to wear masks; the roads are empty but it is prohibited to go on long drives; we have clean hands but we cannot shake hands and indeed, we all have time to sit together but we cannot get together. We might see this as such a mess in life, but on the other side, we are very well aware of the fact that the pandemic has urged us to promote necessary transformations for our society in order to survive in the 21st century. In this regard, it is clear that the old pedestals are tumbling down and we are feeling the pulse of the wind changing in the way that it is blowing.
What will happen if we are not willing to welcome these changes? There are a number of possible futures, all dependent on how governments and society respond to coronavirus and its economic and social aftermath. If things remain in the same condition in the midst of the current situation, the onward march of civilization would have been retarded and we would slide into a worse position. “Health for All” should not remain a mere slogan these days, as human beings are struggling with serious global health issues that would eventually leave a greater impact on economy, politics and culture as well. This crisis, perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation, should therefore be used to rebuild and produce something better and more humane, by compromising with perpetual changes. People should also take into account that it is their own decisions, actions and behaviour that will probably shape the world for years to come, when considering both short-term and long-term consequences. Further, it is important to note that the decisions we took in normal times that would take years of deliberation have been passed in a matter of hours, and vice versa. Thus, the truth of changing nature has obviously become a fixture of our lifestyle.
If the things in nature and in this human world are observed with a little care, we will realize that as the days pass by, these essential and natural changes are becoming more and more rapid and marked; unless they become stereotyped and stale and ultimately reducing into a standstill. As the Arthurian legend unfolds in the idea that the old order has to change to yield place to new, the passing away of a particular system or a state of things leaving space for something new to come in, is a process that is beyond the power of humankind to control. “Old is gold” people might say. There is nothing to question it, however, history has taught us new lessons and we have to learn them and also learn from them, remembering that every new idea or institution runs in its course and every successful product outlives its form. As the world is now passing through an era of inevitable and undeniable transformations, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm goes by. Yes, it will be a very different world that we ought to inhabit for the survival, so it is necessary to adhere to the universal phenomenon of change as it is the sign of progress in the status quo.
The contemporary situation under COVID-19 crisis is therefore, a massive wakeup call that has given rise to an opportunity for change. We have seen various aspects of growth, development and decay in this dynamic world and in fact, our very life would be impossible without getting adjusted to those all-pervading laws of change and motion. Ceaseless conversions in the history of humankind bear ample testimony to prove the fact that the change is the condition of life, and be it a good or bad custom, everything is bound to become metamorphosed in the course of time. As such, in achieving greater good and well-being for all in the new normal, we should accept that it is the change that makes the very soul of creation as times rolls on. Accordingly, pondering over the need to get accustomed to constant changes encountered in life, it is crucial to hold onto the reality expressed in “The Old Order Changeth, Yielding Place To New… Lest One Good Custom Should Corrupt The World”.
– Rtr Ishini Ramachandra
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