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Change is messy

It’s easy to fall into assuming:

  • No change is happening because we cannot see or feel it (a famous metaphor is the frog in heating water. AKA change blindness)
  • Change is gradual (after-the-fact simplification of history can lead to this)
  • Change is sudden (forces, trends, and evolutionary change are not plain to us until a moment of crisis or a high-profile event, e.g. Occupy Wall Street marches in 2011-12 or the risk of extremist terror after 9-11).
  • A small change is significant (this is aligned with confirmation bias, in which you place excess significance on something you are particularly aware of or interested in).

Understanding history helps us see that change does not work in only one way. It’s not always gradual. It happens whether we’re focused on the changes underway or not. It includes sudden shifts, like Post-9/11 change as well as gradual ones, like the rising influence of the Baby Boom after World War II.

And change happens;simultaneously for each element of society; populations and communities, natural systems, technologies, etc. Some change gradually. Others jump forward. And the changes all interact. It’s messy.

The future will emerge the same way. The future will be messy.

Image: James Lee, via Flickr, Creative Commons attribution license.

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