Change is constant and inevitable: Let’s manage change in a better way

Even in a country that can’t agree on how water services might be funded, even in a country where a modest redrawing of county boundaries looks as if it might send black-and-amber refuseniks to the thatch to root out what must now be a very rusty pike, it should be possible to agree on one of today’s constant, undeniable forces.

Nothing defines our time as much as permanent, unrelenting change. Change has long-term implications we may not fully understand until long after that change is normalised.

Which of us knows how the internet will change our emotional engineering, the psychology of how humans interact or anything else?

Donald Trump replaces Barack Obama; Britain decides to quit the EU. Chocolate bars shrink. Change is constant.

We endorsed marriage equality and that change resonated globally. However, the smaller, more subtle statements speak louder. Last week Cardinal Desmond Connell was buried but only one politician went to his funeral.

In a society so long in thrall to the pomp of Catholicism, that was change writ large. If that distance is maintained during Pope Francis’ visit in August of next year, that would represent huge change.

However, and in a sobering reality check, that sphere has shown how little really changes. It showed how immovable corporate power can be. It showed that by refusing to change, it is unintentionally provoking profound change.

That abuse survivor Marie Collins felt she had to quit the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors because of what she called Roman curia intransigence, suggests the leopard has not changed its spots. This will not encourage those who hoped a new culture was in play.

There is a stark lesson in this for those who want to better reflect today’s Ireland by changing how schools are mananged — around 90% of national schools remain under Catholic patronage. Concensus does not come naturally to traditionalists.

The difficulties around managing or, God forbid, celebrating change are all around us. Yesterday Northern Ireland went to the polls because neither Sinn Féin nor the Democratic Unionist Party moved far enough from the positions that, from the cradle, divide those embittered, hostile cultures. Change is the only curative for this deadlock.

This week the Charleton inquiry began its work which is, essentially, about resistance to change perceived or otherwise. How would a changed garda culture treat Sgt Maurice McCabe? This week all of us, as Taoiseach Enda Kenny admitted, have been shamed by the “Grace” scandal.

The publication of the reports suppressed for years was followed by the usual promises of profound change so such horrors might not recur. Those pledges once sounded plausible but meaningful change is as yet imaginary.

Next week we face transport chaos because when we had it we spent it rather than preparing for ineveitable challenge brought by a changing world.

Barack Obama’s presidency showed how very difficult it is to deliver change if that means confronting behemoths. We seem trapped in a similar bind and unless we summon the determination to better manage change we will suffer needlessly because change always arrives uninvited or not.

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