Sunday, September 04, 2005

Change, Change, Change ...

I wrote this article long back (about a year ago), when one fine morning I woke up at 5.00 AM out of frustration. Hope the topic does not frustrate anyone anymore.

Change is the law of Nature. Nobody denies this fact. Had there been no change there would not have been the concept of time and all physics would have been dead. Thus change is inevitable. Some changes are favorable to us while others are not. There is nice little book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by “…” (Well, right now I don’t remember the author’s name) which tells you very nicely about change. The book is highly popular and well acclaimed all over the world. The lesson in the book goes something like this: -

Do not be afraid of change.
Anticipate change.
Adapt to change.
(Else you will perish).

I think that the author had made his point very well, but it seems to me (it’s my personal view) that he has left some aspects of change totally untouched. I was thinking about those aspects today morning and couldn’t resist putting my ideas into this document. My original motivation for this document are my friends who have long since called me a rigid person (immune to change).

Anyone who has even the slightest idea about evolution and natural selection will come to understand the basic fact that those who don’t adapt to change will not survive in nature. However many don’t realize the fact that the organism doesn’t adapt consciously to change (i.e. by his own will). The genes simply mutate randomly and the ones more suited to environment are selected by nature. Genes have no foresight and no intention to change as such.

But we humans are a bit different. We do have foresight and have free will. So it is really us who can adapt to change by our conscious efforts. And many people do adapt to situations. But the important point the author of “Who Moved My Cheese?” misses is that we are the only creatures who are able to bring about change. We have the free will to act and bring about changes in our environment, rather than just sitting passively waiting for a change to occur and adapt to it. Nobody, I believe, really thinks much about how a change occurs in the first place. Nowadays much of the change is brought about not by Nature, but by humans.

Adapting to change is what I will call an opportunistic view of life, where you don’t have foresight and you adapt yourself to situation to reap maximum short term benefit from it. This is a typical selfish behavior hardwired (or programmed) into human nature. The genes who made us lack foresight and work toward short term goal of replication. But I will believe that if all people start having this view of life, then we will be reduced to selfish automata, with no long term plan or purpose. I believe that the entire human progress will be halted and the civilization will come to an end.

The really important faculty of humans which has brought about all this development is our free will, the ability to act consciously, to bring about change (and not adapt to change). If we are not using that faculty, then why at all are we blessed with minds or brains? Apparently for no purpose? I hope everybody agrees, the answer is no. We have minds specifically for bringing about change. Adapting to change does not require any brains (because this is what all other organisms, having no brains or little brains, do). There have been some people (rather smart people, I think the author of that book is also one of them) who have somehow publicized this adaptation idea so much so that we have practically no desires left for bringing about change.

So I ask the readers of this document. Where does this adaptive thinking lead to? To find an answer you don’t need to do a research. Just look around yourself. See how people have embraced corruption. They have adapted to it remarkably well (I believe such an adaptation is unparalleled in the entire world of living beings). Look at the way people justify corruption in name of this adaptation and provoke others to adapt as well. See the way, the girls (not all) have adapted to the new standards of fashion (which have nothing about fashion, just about sex). I do not want to add further items to this list of adaptations. The ones which came to mind quickly I have mentioned them.

We have lost all the rationale to decide whether a change is worth adapting in the long run or not. We are blindly adapting. Nobody is bothered about changing the state of affairs. We have becomes slaves at the hands of few smart and cunning people who are bringing about these bad changes in our society. Rather than opposing them, we embrace them. Take an example, most of the teachers discourage new ideas and want the classroom problems to be done in the way they have instructed the students. When the student discovers a new way of doing things, the teacher gets frustrated that he is not following me. You might be thinking that this just happens in small schools where the teachers don’t have a broad outlook. Well, such a case happened with one of my friend in IIT Kharagpur. In general there is a strong aversion towards a new idea. The people having new ideas are thought to be eccentric and word eccentric has become almost derogatory. But people fail to realize that all the modern scientific development is based on the work of few eccentrics. Almost all the ideas of modern science were at first treated with aversion. Had the scientific thinkers been adaptive, we would not have enjoyed the so called benefits or applications of science.

There are some people who have come to realize that others are too adaptive to change and they reap a large benefit from it. These people are what I will call the leaders of present day India. They do not have any ability as such to become leaders in true sense of the word, but they rely on the fact that a common Indian will follow whatever they say. People adapt to the new political ideas, without thinking about its impact in the long run. And those who are able to think about it are in minority and their effect is nullified. We have chosen to become followers, rather than leaders. Following is not all that bad, but it’s a disaster when you follow the wrong guy. Whenever there are many followers, there will emerge a smart non-follower, who will capitalize on the fact that others are good followers and will popularize his ideas to the maximum. That’s what has happened practically in India.

The problem I find is that, it is much more difficult to bring about change rather than adapting to change. So there should have been a book about “How to Move Cheese?” rather than “Who Moved My Cheese?” I wonder why it is not so. (Perhaps writing such a book is much more difficult and its chances of being sold in the market very less).

Don’t you all think that it’s high time we put our minds to use and think actively rather passively about change? Well, I think so and that’s why I get into heated arguments with many people over this topic.

I hope I have made my point clear. Further discussion can be made by posting comment for this blog entry.


Blogger Ankur Pruthi said...


Welcome to the blog-world...

A few suggestions,

1. Enable anoon comments,
2. Put long stories in two or more parts,
3. Make sure that you are formatting properly, hustification etc.
4. Get some blog-tools

& last but not the least

put a link to my blog on yours...


8:53 PM  

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