Welcoming Change When It Happens

In the previous post, I discussed problems that are likely to be encountered because of change. The bottom line was that, they who oppose change may have something to fear due to that change.

So uncertainty always breeds fear, and change is often coupled with uncertainty.

The problem is usually exacerbated by change evangelists:

• While promoting the virtues of new ideas and technologies, they would portray those not ready to do so as backward, ignorant or losers.
• They may not clearly outline the benefits of such a change, even if the change is likely to improve the lives of everybody.
• Creating camps even in situations where cooperation is required is a sure way to kill the proposed progress.

I am thinking of how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was supposed to power not only modern businesses, but even government institutions.

Whereas online e-governance, for instance, would have decentralised operations and cleared a way to effectively fighting corruption, it is not yet fully implemented partly because its benefits may not have been sold to whoever was supposed to drive the reform.

As pointed in the last instalment, some people find security in traditional ways. They see stability. This may not mean that these people are resistant to the guaranteeing of their security through new ideas: rather, they amplify the uncertainty of change by pointing out its failure.

I am often amused when I hear how e-banking and e-commerce can be dismissed, even by some who are educated whom we think should know better:

1. “This e-commerce exposes us to hackers, our country is not yet ready for that.”
2. “Leaving everything to technology is a sure way of giving up your control to some capital in the West. Who is behind that software? Who owns those servers?”
3. “There is no way we can win in the cyberspace: the Internet is a testing ground for how far another country can control other peoples.”

Certainly, these may sound grand when you hear a person espousing such concerns on behalf of the entire populace.

What must be done for change to be welcome

We can trust time to do its work, but it is also giving up hope to leave time to do the whole thing.

You would see that any generation would take refuge in leaving that to the future generations, and not bother about it for now.

Think of the debates around global warming:

• Those calling for reduction of the CO2 emissions argue that a change in this generation can save the earth and its habitats: now.
• Others who may agree with them may think of this not as urgent. Instead, they are comfortable creating policies for the next generation. I am thinking of policies such as the 2063 Vision of the AU that may only come to fruition in the next 53 years!1

Preparing people for Change today

The best way that change can happen is to prepare for it. This involves:

• Educating everyone concerned on the benefit of the change.
• Training people on the use of new technologies, if there are any.
• Informing users on the benefits of the new technology as compared to the old one.
• These days, there is an added advantage: examples of success stories of new technologies brought about as a result of change can be found online.

This is how literacy had been brought to the people anyway: it was resistance at first, but later accepted for its apparent benefit.

There is no need for people to belittle each other because of fashion, technology or new ideas. Rather than earning you the respect you thought you would get by attaining this knowledge, this may lead to hardening of positions. See my thinking of this in this post.

Conclusion

Any change is fraught with challenges. It may be a success or a failure, but we will never know until we change. It is like anything new: you are not sure how it would work out until you try it.

These COVID-19 times are trying times, but there is no doubt that by the time we pass through them, the world would have changed.

In what ways? We are not sure. What we can do is only to prepare for such a time and then adjust for it, whether as individuals, families or whole communities.

1. Make sure to draft policies that you would live to see anyway. This is the logic of the point: you should be accountable for what you drafted. ↩︎

Ishe Chinyoka
Access Technology Instructor

My research interests include operating systems, access technology, programming, and science fiction.