I hear (and read) the expression, “People don’t change” frequently and it baffles me. Because people do change. All the time. Heck, I’m a different person now than I was even a month ago. And not just me. There are gay characters on practically every television show that’s broadcast these days. There are homophobic dads out there that are now accepting their gay sons. There are states that accept gay marriage and civil unions. There are entire countries ok with people marrying whomever they want. And not just that, hell, Wal-Mart sells all natural products made by Clorox. Clorox, the makers of bleach. Sure, it was probably motivated by profits, but still, the fact I can even say that in the same breath is tremendous.
On an individual level there are people out there who are off drugs, or lost 300 pounds, or finally learned what it means to be compassionate. There are people who finally took down their walls and allowed love into their lives. People change ALL THE TIME. I think mostly what it comes down to though is “I” can’t get “you” to change. I think we say, “People don’t change” because it’s much easier to swallow our powerlessness over others. Because no matter how much I want, plead, or cajole I can’t force someone to change their behavior. But that doesn’t mean their behavior won’t change, it just won’t be because of me. Or them really.
Here’s a truth I’ve learned: “I” can’t ever change myself. If I could I’d be thinner/richer/smarter/prettier/whatever. If I could change me I would do so many things! My controlling nature would throw a parade because, “Yes! I can finally do everything I always wanted the way I wanted!” Here’s the miracle of my life today. I’m incredibly impatient (which I think we’ve established) and I resigned myself to being that way forever because, “People don’t change.” But then you know what? I started praying about it. I started praying for more patience so I could better show up for myself and others and it happened. When I went to visit my parents for Christmas I didn’t yell and stamp my feet urging them to hurry up. Instead I kept my mouth shut and just waited. I wasn’t even bothered by their lateness. Who was that? Not me. The change had to come from something outside of me. And I don’t necessarily mean just God or Higher Power. I’m talking about the little stuff that gets me out of my own headspace like serving someone else, or volunteering, or traveling to a foreign country. There has to be that room for expansion and growth.
I guess I’m saying I know another world is possible because another me, you, we is possible. I know another world is possible because we change all the time. We are each different today than we were five years ago. I know another world is in the making because we are not static creatures who engage in the same behavior over and over again. Sure, we might for a time, but eventually something gives. We expand. We wake up. We’re ever-so-slightly different than we were before. There’s no truth to the statement, “People don’t change.” It’s more accurate to say, “I can’t make you change.”
I dream of a world where we celebrate the growth we all go through. A world where we recognize the beauty and the magic in life. A world where we see how those around us do indeed change and we marvel at the difference. A world where we allow ourselves and each other to show up in new and inspiring ways. A world where we recognize things are ever-changing, ourselves included.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.