Information Overload (from Buzz Words CD)

  Flower power went sour
  High rotate trends
  Knowledge economy
  Retool and re-skill
  New wind blowing
  Christ as inspiration

Leon Tolstoy once said, everyone wants to change the world, but no-one thinks of changing themselves.

With or without us the world is changing. It is barrelling along at such a rate of knots that Tolstoy will have to be proved wrong if we are to survive. We are all going to have to change significantly in order to cope with the social, political and technological advances now reshaping the world.

There’s not been a decade like this in recent history. Things are happening so quickly it's been easier for many people to remain locked up in the past than to adapt.

From horseback to space travel is in living memory - we are now bounding ahead in science fictional leaps. It is therefore more important than ever to know where we have been, and where we are, to understand where we are heading.

If we are to survive the changes and be a part of tomorrow's world we must be prepared. We must know ourselves to take control of our own destiny or be forced to conform to someone else’s idea of the big picture.

Flower power went sour

During the 60s young people throughout the Western world had become disenchanted with what they saw as contradiction and hypocrisy in their parents and grandparents. Two world wars had knocked the stuffing out of two successive generations. It was time for a change.

When those born in the post World War 11 baby boom become old enough to develop their own perspective of the world they began to demand their own identity.

The desire for individuality showed itself in a new music and poetry, new folk heroes which didn't conform to the traditions of their parents. Loud and colourful clothing, beads, long hair and a questionable morality became the in-thing. Instead of the melodic crooning of Frank Sinatra or the brassy dance band sound of Glenn Miller, a free expression of jazz, folk protest songs, and electric music echoed through the western world in a decade that set the mood for every change since.

People were seeking something firm to believe in, some alternative to the world wars and the threat of a Vietnam, which now loomed ominously over the world. The message was peace, free love, flower power, and do what you like as long as no-one gets hurt. Commendable philosophies - but soon the rot set in. People were getting hurt.

Man's attempts to establish an alternative soon lost direction and began to take their toll. The overdoses continued as thousands tried to find themselves on acid and other more habit forming and dangerous substances.

The message of peace hung sour in the air. The generation which had reacted so strongly to the seeming hypocrisy of their parents was now caught in a web of its own making. It had lost sight of the utopian dreams, which somehow spurred it on.

The generation, which loathed the thought of becoming just another number, another spoke in the wheel, a cog in the machine, a brick in the wall - quickly overdosed on itself. The hippies of yesterday are today's parents with children facing similar identity crises.

Today there is an uncanny nostalgia, which has built up around the 60s and early 70s - it is like those years have become the good old days. Most of those who have come to worship the ideals of the 60s weren’t even born then. Just listening to the Top 40 hit parade today reveals so many cover versions of songs, were popular in the flower power era. Sometimes I wonder whether it isn't because we have run out of creative steam in the 90s.

High rotate trends

The music machine seems to be churning out bland pop music clones, which look and sound the same just to keep the dollars flowing. It truly is a nice feeling to hear something fresh and original on the high rotate radio today.

The once-rebels of the sixties are now running the capitalist society. They are the new comfortably off. The security of their existence depends on things staying the same, on stable stockmarkets and interest rates on inflation remaining under control. But a change is coming that will rock even the children of change. We work hard to find answers and then just when we think we’re there someone changes the questions. Change is constant - all around us - no respecter of persons. The old gives way to the new like demolition and construction crews at work over a city. Like the ever changing skyline, like fashion trends, like pop music hits, like the transition from childhood to old age, like the seasons, change is part of our world.

To the Aboriginal in New Guinea change, in the sense of our modern world, has been slow. To the person in the city trying to keep abreast of the tidal wave of technology, change is rapid and often frustrating. As soon as the latest computer is mastered it’s surpassed by a superior model. As soon as you master the controls on your video player or hi-fi it is no longer state of the art.

Our attitude to the world often depends on how much information we have access to. Up until about 25 years ago there were still Japanese soldiers roaming around in the jungle believing the war was still on. It wasn't long ago people believed the world was flat and there were dragons and demons waiting at its edge to devour unsuspecting adventurers. These same people believed that the universe revolved around the earth. Those who dared believe differently were put to death by a church system threatened by science.

Knowledge economy

Information is knowledge and knowledge can lead to understanding, wisdom and power. We are living in the information age where knowledge is being transmitted around the globe at light speed to the benefit of many people.

It wasn't so long ago the wireless was the great novelty - the new invention that brought the world into our homes - now we have a television in almost every home, soon the computer will be all pervasive along with the software that allows us to see who we are speaking with.

Already in the business community paper accounts, receipts, order forms, tender documents and customs forms are rapidly giving way to electronic documents, e-commerce, home banking and shopping and video on demand.

This new era of information, communications, computers and technological gadgets brings with it amazing opportunities to broaden our horizons and communicate globally with like-minded people, family and friends. It also poses a greater risk to privacy than we have ever faced before.

If the credit card, and the tax number and the social welfare number weren't enough to make you wonder then the way of the future will confirm your greatest fears. There will be no escape. Big Brother will know us intimately.

Retool and re-skill

Sometimes change comes gently as nature takes its course - like the arrival of a new child. Often change comes after a crisis, or a bad experience causes us to look again at our lives.

Problems arise when we become victims of change, when change set in motion by governments and councils, by corporations and circumstances beyond our control comes too quickly. Change can be traumatic when someone close to us dies, or when, without warning, we are told our services are no longer required because our employer has fallen on hard times or our skills are no longer relevant.

But there’s an upside to every downside. Change can bring new opportunities and open doors. Out of disaster and chaos can come new beginnings to reshape lives and society.

Change presents us with a challenge. We must meet it with some equal and positive change in ourselves. We must retool ourselves with new skills and understanding or risk being crippled by our own inadequacy.

We can change ourselves to become more capable, more forgiving so the past doesn't bind us up with bitterness. We can be more flexible so circumstances don't break us. Other people can benefit from our experience when they face tough changes.

Whether the future will be a better place or a harsher place in which to live I cannot tell. Only today really matters in this process because that is where we have to live. Here and now is the starting point for personal change - this is where we contribute to the kind of tomorrow we would like to be part of. Personal change leads to changed people and if people change society changes. We are all involved in the revolution.

To some people each new day is a challenge, a bridge to cross, a new shore on which to leave footprints, another blank space on which to write. To others, life has become a burdensome thing. It is a scowl, a grimace, filled with complaints and injustice.

New wind blowing

The law of the jungle would suggest only the strong will survive the changes ahead, only the big businesses, the richest people, the most powerful nations. But I believe that myth will soon be dispelled. If power, riches and status have been gained through corrupt means they will not stand when the new wind blows through.

When we discover new truth about ourselves or the world we should change our views to accommodate that discovery. If we ignore truth we are defending lies. Truth will still win the day and be standing firm when lies crumble into dust.

We cannot hope to find security in transient things such as money and possessions. To look to other humans to define our goals can reveal some admirable qualities to mimic but generally humans are far too trend-prone to be reliable role models. Anyway who wants a second-hand identity?

Through personal soul searching we can begin to discover fragments of an identity we may have only glimpsed in our dreams. No matter how far we think we might have come, there is still more than what we have settled for. Most of us operate at a fairly low ebb of being.

Our potential often lies untapped beneath the harsh robes of a fallen identity Unless the very heart of our being is seeded with a determination, and enlivened with hope to draw us beyond ourselves, pioneering efforts into the terrain of potential will be limited.

Christ as inspiration

Our pioneer spirit, however, can be stirred by the knowledge that someone has walked this way before to show the path. Change often means the death of old ways. Even yesterday is dying by degrees to make way for a new tomorrow but there are landmarks we should never forget. If we do not have an anchor for our lives - some solid foundation on which to build we will be swept along in the sea of change and never be able to stand against its tides.

In all things valuable to a full and powerful life the greatest of all pioneers is Jesus Christ. Although he represented the heavenly kingdom he was human. He went through the changes - he faced them all. He was tested and tried in every aspect of living, as are we all. The character and strength of his personality represent an eternal quality - an unchanging set of values.

He is trustworthy. His life is an inspiration. The promises he made are a source of hope. But he is more than a mere example because he continued to have a real and powerful life after cheating death.

In accepting Christ as our mentor and guide, a new light arises in our hearts. Each day becomes more relevant to the next as he supervises inner changes so the tidal wave of outward change doesn't sweep us away. -Keith Newman © 1997

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