Change.

This will contain only a tiny reference to Obama so don’t worry.

I was at a conference recently when one of the key speakers talked about change. The speaker is a very respectable person, intelligent and gave a very good speech. Change was also mentioned by one of the other presenters, another very intelligent being.

I remember reading a document my father had made that talked about his belief for continuous improvement which also showed he valued change too.

But at the conference all this talk of change irked me. It’s probably just me. I know I tend to stand out as a person who calls a spade a spade, someone who feels little or no need to not challenge people whenever they say something foolish (the intention is always good – to show people they were talking crap in order that they will stop doing so!).

Eventually the floor was open to questions/comments.

I said something like:

“All this talk of change. To me, change is an illusion. A bit like the change promised by President Obama – the nobel peace prize winner – who’s now escalating the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but if we always have to change, then it’s an acceptance of what we did before was a failure. – Could you comment on that?”

The key speaker had left so I asked that of the person who had presented a paper. They took it very very well. Once again, having asked a question, my mind was once again in a bit of a buzz for not putting the question in as effective way that I could have, so I don’t remember the answer so clearly either but it went something like this:

Your Q was very philosophical

{I think they meant it and the presenter was willing to engage – in other words, they weren’t trying to butter me up and fudge their way out of addressing the issue} and they said something like

“…there was nothing wrong in with change when it’s to improve things…”

 {recall I can’t remember exactly what they had said, but it was along those lines: change <=> improvement}. At this point I starting thinking I should have qualified my question with this:

“- the fundamental science of mathematics doesn’t change, The need for education or a way to deliver effective education doesn’t change, and if change is done for changes sake, then surely it’s not reasonable to imagine that the changes made will always be positive ones.”

– But I didn’t, not least due to experience of Q&A/comments where I’ve seen a fair share of people asking longish questions much to the exponential annoyance and impatience of the audience*. So I tried to keep things short and also given the obvious intelligence and hard work of the presenter, I didn’t want to box them in too much and pose a question that would be very difficult to answer in the situation at hand.

But really my point is: If we adopt change as an ethic or mindset then in relation to the work we currently doing, we know it cannot be as good as what it will be once we change it. << Here I embrace the presenters (and my fathers) view of change – that which leads to greater benefit. Some may answer “we have no choice because we cannot see in the future” – which is kind of a reasonable point, BUT it doesn’t negate out current work will ALWAYS be substandard. To me thats like the concept of original sin – inescapable; Ones whole body of work isn’t as good as it could have been.

But the REAL thing that unsettled me about change (and I had considered this even before the presenter mentioned change to make things better because at the back of my mind was the document my father had written about it and really, there is actually no other way to spin change other than to say ‘for benefit’)  is WHO does it benefit? The answer is of course, that the change most people are bullied into doing only benefits those who already occupy privileged position, because most people work not for themselves, but are salaried and ultimately work for a higher power.

I mentioned education earlier and some may question my statement just now thinking it doesn’t apply to the educational sector – Oh but it does! I have seen the frankly ugly hands of corporatism grab a hold of education and influence it towards satisfying its needs. Such a thing cannot expect their whole education sector to be at its needs and desires, but a significant proportion of it.

It may be said what’s the point of not having an educated populace to apply to the commercial world – what’s the merit of having Professors of books sitting in an office / ivory tower, not actually doing anything? and that’s a fair point, education has a role in the corporate market but I am talking about the SOCIETY.

I think I’m drawing the conclusion that a society of educated people is the most conducive to the living of life. But it depends on what kind of education and who’s calling the shots?

So Change in my opinion is still an illusion, a carrot drawing us ever farther forward. We seem to be embracing ‘change’ because people out there say ‘change’ is good. Where is the thoughts about is change really necessary? Who does it benefit? What if we don’t want change? What if we think the current situation is perfectly fine and we think change will be negative? What consequences will multiple future changes have upon us? Won’t it just solidify this corporate world in which we live in today? Were the people 10 changes back really that bad? Did I mention chandge involves the exahange of a lot of money through a few peoples hands?

I don’t think I want the corporatists change.

* On longish Q&A/comments: that some audiences (and moderators) get annoyed at long Q’s coming from the floor, actually annoyed me! i.e. I sometimes getm annoyed at the fact they get annoyed. They rarely get annoyed when trivial off topic questions are made, but more over, sometimes a question/point needs some background. At the Criminalise War conference in Oct 2009 a speaker who was the head of some press organisation expressed regret at  how he followed the mainstream media view on Iraq – pre invasion. This really annoyed me! I got up and mentioned the signs that bLiar and co were talking rubbish were actually there. I mentioned something pretty close to:

“After the first war against Iraq, BBC journalists were expressing their mistake of following the govt line too much, and they did exactly the same thing with this war- they didn’t learn from their lesson. Scott Ritter the UN weapons inspector who had in effect had validated that Iraq had been disarmed but there were a few missiles unaccounted for. He was told by his superiors that no matter what he did, those missiles would never be found, in other words, they were deliberately reserving an excuse to attack Iraq by. Also, when Colin Powell held up that vial of anthrax which was probably sugar and showed cartoon’s as ‘proof’ that Iraq had a biological weapons program, I was waiting for the media to challence what they wwere saying.”

At that point the moderator stupidly tried to ‘hurry’ me and asked me to get to my question. I say stupidly because it it was a stupid act on his part. I was providing proof to what I was saying and it was highly relevant to what the speaker had just talked about – just that it showed what the speaker was saying wasn’t that legitimate. I was giving a damning display of the fawning media and that they had no excuse to portray their ‘mistake’ in innocence.

I then concluded the question and the speaker skipped over the substantive points I put before him.

What I’m saying in here is that from what I’ve seen of Q&A/comments it’s a very poor reflection of what it should be. 

End *

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