The Times They Need Changing

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Bob Dylan wrote this song in the early 1960’s as an anthem to the times. Not much has changed in 50 plus years, in fact I think we’re marking time (marching in place) or moving backwards in almost everything except technology. For some unknown reason we are able to innovate and create fabulous new products to ease our lives but not actually change us for the better.

These marvelous product simplify every facet of daily existence. We can travel farther and faster than ever before. We can talk and Skype and video conference on computer terminals and laptops and tablets and cell phones around the world almost without limitations. We can cook meals in minutes. We can read news articles from any country with internet access and open policies. We know what each other think and love and even our political bents and aspirations. We can watch the latest movies from the comfort of our own home theaters. We can listen to music created and published by independent artist worldwide. The possibilities are limitless, or so they seem.

Today we actually have to make a effort to disconnect; 50 years ago it was the exact opposite. Watch around you and notice the number of people talking on cell phones. What are they talking about? It makes no difference where they are or what they’re doing: walking, driving, shopping, jogging, exercising, or sitting in a cafe’. You even see them sending text messages during a movie. Are we that afraid of being alone with our own thoughts or do we need constant and continual validation? Is there some abandonment issue at play? Do we need to be tethered to belong never separated from the collective? Personally I relish a few peaceful hours away from technology.

The big question is are we better as a result of these amazing changes?
We certainly are technically. We can do more work with less people. That’s good for employers but not so much for the workers. We need to be smarter and better trained. That’s good for the colleges but not for the students that carry the financial burden for years after graduation. Then there’s the lack of good jobs for graduates. Fortunately there are some that have positions before graduating, but what about those in the lower 95% of graduates. Are these changes really that good or is the real problem that we haven’t kept pace with the mindset necessary to embrace these changes?

Globalization requires that we think in much broader terms. We must open our minds to new and better ways of thinking. We need to embrace a more communal thought process. If we continue our myopic and xenocentric lives and ignore the outside influences we are the Dodo’s of our generation. Likewise of our governments continue their exclusionary and colonial programs of democratization they become the mastodon’s of this generation and we all lose.

Invading and conquering other countries is 15th century thinking yet we continue to quibble about borders and who’s allowed to live on which side on an imaginary line. We think that ethnicity is the defining factor in our world rather than looking into a person’s heart and mind to see their intent. We believe that because there is a different in religious stance we cannot ever learn to live together. We think that might makes right like it did throughout our history. Most of our radical changes are born from weapons development. It’s sad to think that we are where we are technologically because we really wanted to kill each other more efficiently. It’s interesting how our perverse ideas can actually be used for good; but the converse that good things are perverted to evil uses is certainly true as well. I suppose it is our nature as humans to make the best and worst of whatever we touch.

I look at where we are now versus where we were in the 1960’s and see that even the best of that era is gone forever or perverted. Maybe we just forgot what is was all about or maybe is wasn’t as powerful as we first thought. One of the most powerful movements of that era was Civil Rights. Are we better off as a result of this cause or did we just learn to hide it better. Racial inequality is still a problem like it was then. We are still aware of the elephant in the room, but no one dare speak of it. The most amazing recent development is that racial inequality is no longer the White Man’s problem, we are recognizing that is extends equally into the Black community as well. That only took 50 years. Even other cultures and ethnicity are stepping up to admit prejudice. Now there’s a step forward. Hank Aaron is an excellent contemporary example. Maybe like many of us he’s just a victim of antiquated thinking. Maybe he’s just catching up with the times and realizing that everyone is prejudice. At least he has the strength to admit it and own it. Interestingly enough I don’t see him differently than 50 years ago when he was an baseball icon regardless of his race. His admission doesn’t make him a bad person, only an honest one. How strong are we when it comes to admitting our thinking and attitudes may be a bit antiquated. Maybe we need to be honest, too.

Here’s a news flash… Holland has a real problem with its prisons. That’s right… They have too many prisons and not enough criminals. They are closing 19 prisons because their idea of rehabilitation works. No Shit! It seems they thought about the best was to deal with crime is to prevent it in the first place and if that’s not possible the find a way to rehabilitate the criminal. The last resort is incarceration. “While progressive drug laws in the Netherlands may be partially the reason for a decline in arrests, other social factors are also at work. This point to crime reduction through changing social behavior as a key to reducing incarcerations – rather than just changing the laws or telling police to stop arresting people as a method for artificially creating the perception that there is less crime.” What a concept… changing social behavior. Oh by the way they have saved over $50,000 per criminal per year. Math time – $50,000 time 1000 people? $50 Million…

So changing our thought process and approach to a problem make a major difference. Rather than 3 strikes and you’re in for life – we try to change the social behavior. Of course the basis for this change needs to extend much further into the structure of the country and its fundamental beliefs, but it is possible. Holland did it. Just for comparison there are almost 3 million people in our prison system costing over $53.3 Billion a year to keep them. Talk about a big business.

Where are we in the evolutionary process of growing up; of becoming a great nation again? We are devolving into chaos. America is the land of “Every Person for Themselves.” Do you know your neighbor? Do know their names? Do you know where they work? Are they retired? What do they like? Who do they worship? What is their political leaning? You see you don’t have to argue religion or politics or any other subject for that matter. You can discuss it rationally and in conversation. Ah there’s something we avoid like the IRS. We need to change with the times or become extinct.
Changing our thought process is very, very hard. It means opening up to new ideas and not fighting to make you position known, but listening to what is said then understanding it. Asking questions about the topic opens the door to understanding. We are so combative that we don’t take time to listen. If we disagree we either fight for our stance or flee the scene. I guess that’s why we meet every challenge like a battle. We have the war on poverty. The war on drugs. The war on homelessness. The war on (enter a topic here). Think about this before you respond. Are we winning any of these wars? Are we? Did you ever wonder why?

We all agree that Albert Einstein was a pretty bright fellow. He said…” No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Basically this means that we cannot solve our problems using the same thought process that created them. We need to change our fundamental thought processes if we want to change the world. Guess where that change begins?

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

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