Change can be challenging

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While common to all, change often brings on stress

By Mary Schmuck

When I was a young student I wrote a significant paper that dealt with human response to change. I no longer have the paper on hand, but I remember its bottom line and have tried to heed its wisdom over the decades.

That bottom line: most people generally resist change (granted that some among us seem to thrive on it).

Given that many of us like change in moderation as we live through a period of history heavy with changes, stress is evident in many sectors of society.

But change, including big change, is actually not something new for any of us. Anyone can look back on many changes across a lifetime along with our survival of them.

Start with reportedly great shock at being born. Would it have been better not to have made that change?

What about starting school? First date? First job? The various new stages in education?

Leaving home? A life-transforming trip somewhere? Getting married or entering a religious community with its various big decision moments? Getting big news about one’s health or that of a loved one? The departure of each of one’s parents and other dear ones? Winning some big prize?

Accommodating to technological changes unimaginable earlier in one’s life?

All these are changes. How did we respond to them each time? We are here, so we must have had some degree of success in doing so. What role did one’s values or that of others play in successfully negotiating the various changes? What role did others in family and society play in that successful negotiation? Did the sun keep appearing each day?

The fear factor about change is being highlighted as serious work on U.S. health care moves into higher gear. Whatever happens, it is certain that there will be benefits and costs, and our values will influence our choices and responses. Do the values of the common good, the life and dignity of everyone, generosity, personal responsibility, mutual support in doing good have strong roles to play?

Further, whatever decisions we as a country make about healthcare reform, it will take time to work out the multitudinous details of implementation – there is talk of 2013 likely being a significant date in this process. Thus it won’t be a mushroom-cloud-tomorrow kind of experience.

In the meantime, it would be great homework if we would devote some attention to the history of the development of health care policy much of last century, as well as better understanding of various economic systems with the benefits and costs of each in its pure form.

The issues before us are challenging enough without wasting precious energy on straw issues that really don’t exist but which distract from the issues at hand, a distraction that costs us all.

We also might reflect on the interplay among the several sectors in a successful society: individuals and families; civic and religious groups; business; government. Don’t all need to be strong in order to serve in counterbalancing and complementing each other?

This historical perspective and information can help calm nerves as we face change.