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Anxiety and the Fast Pace of Change

I listened to a speaker a few weeks ago who said his father moved from East Texas to West Texas in a covered wagon. He participated in the last Buffalo hunt with Native Americans and before he died, he saw the United States put a man on the moon. Talk about change! This guys saw some change.

With the increase in technology, change is coming even faster now. The world is not just changing, but being dramatically reshaped. Change is happening faster than we can reshape ourselves — our leadership, our institutions, our ethics. There is an enormous mismatch between pace of change and our ability to keep up with the change — we lack safety nets, policies, training.

In the 1900s, it took twenty to thirty years for things to become uncomfortably different. In 2000s, it takes about 5 years for things to become uncomfortably different. The new smart phone update confuses us. The technology at the check out counter dumbfounds us. The new system the school is using to distribute grades is full of frustration. By the time we get used to the change, it’s not the prevailing change anymore. With change happening so fast, it leaves us feeling inadequate.

We carry the anxiety of all the changes that are happening around us. And on top of all of that Covid ushered in dramatic changes to education, social interaction, business, politics, health care, job markets, and the economy. Dramatic change on top of fast pace change has us looking for a place to off-load our anxiety. This is why we’ve become more and more of a reactive society. We off-load our anxiety on the waiter who didn't get the food out fast enough, the personal shopper who didn't get the right brand, the pastor who changed the schedule. Reaction is our go-to response to everything.

Our only choice now is to learn a way to be in the world that is not reactive.

For human transformation, silence is non-negotiable. We must find times of silence for growth and transformation — a place where we get beyond the multitude of words and thoughts. As all this change brings up anxiety, we need intentional silence. Quiet space is where miracles occur. The spiritual discipline of silence helps us accept the changes and find peace and calm.

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