As if on cue, our first cool front slid through the area on the first day of autumn. Oh, we know the cool mornings and lower temperatures will vacillate throughout our Gulf Coast “fall” but it, along with the longer shadows and shorter days, tells us this is a season of change.

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? Change is a constant of life, yet many people claim to hate it. From the moment a fertilized egg divides, we are set on a life of change. In watching children grow from infancy, I am amazed we humans don’t fall on our backsides (and faces) more than we do. Our bodies change so rapidly. As children, our arms, legs and torsos, with all the muscles, bones and ligaments involved, are never the same from week to week. New experiences, sights, sounds and other stimuli mean our brains are constantly making new pathways adjusting for all this change. As adolescents, our bodies are thrown into crazy changes we won’t even bother mentioning. On top of physical changes, we go through life changes … relationships … marriage … children … death of loved ones ... and, for about half of us, divorce. It is all change and it is constant.

What is so amusing is the number of people I encounter in life who say they hate change. They want things to be just as they were at some point. What I don’t think most realize is you cannot stop change. In fact, the lack of change is stagnation and death. Now I fully believe not all change is good, but I also believe we can help direct change in a positive direction if we will be proactive instead reactive and so resistant.

We do not have to look too far to see that not all change is good … and even some of the good change is not complete. There certainly seems to be more violence in parts of our country. That is not good change. It also seems we have more bickering and animosity. That is not good either. There is definitely a gross lack of respect for our elders and for our country … that is not a good change. But before we wish for the good old days, let’s remember they weren’t quite as good as you might remember. When both of my grandmothers were born, women did not even have the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin came into being in my lifetime (I’m not that old). American corporations are just now coming to grips with the wage discrepancy between men and women. In many places in our country, there have only been baby steps taken in the way Native Americans and people of color are treated. So, while some changes have not been “good,” there are other areas where there has not been enough change.

As the seasons change and the weather cools off a bit, maybe we, too, need to cool off a bit. We need to be proactive, but we need to listen as much as speak. We must learn afresh that people may not have the same opinion as you and they can still be “good” people. One of the great things about the USA is we have the right to speak. I just feel that if we listened as much as we spoke, things might change for the better. The only way to learn the real problem is to open your ears instead of your mouth. One more change that we could all learn to work on is kindness. Give the person who offends you the benefit of the doubt. Treat them with kindness instead of jumping down their throats. Imagine what could happen if we each decided to undergo a season of change for ourselves and began to treat others as we would like to be treated. And, for the record, that concept is found in every major religion on earth … imagine the change in the world if we actually let that “golden rule” change our hearts. Be kind and stay humble.

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