Somebody remarked the other day that he had ordered a meal at a McDonald’s Drive-Through. When he reached the payment and collection counter, he noticed that he had been given a Senior Citizen’s discount. Nobody had asked to verify if he was, indeed, a Senior Citizen and qualified for the discount. Puzzled, he wondered how it was that they knew. Then it struck him. The model of the car he was driving was typically driven only by Senior Citizens. “I need to change my car”, he thought.
As humans, we seem to naturally want to be more youthful. After all, nobody wants to die. You’ve probably heard Steve Jobs remarking in that 2005 Stanford address that “…even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there.” Well, he was partially right, of course. People do not want to be reminded of death, they want to have as youthful a life for as long as they can have it! Even people who are able to genuinely say “It is a good day to die” don’t actively wish to die on that particular good day. They want to live so that they can see more good days!
This sort of thinking pattern creeps into other areas of life. We seem to be obsessed with throwing out the old and bringing in the new. I think that, too often, we throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. We grasp like drowning men at shiny straws thrown our way by people who know how to manipulate buying behaviour because, unconsciously, we believe that what we buy will somehow reverse the inexorable march of Chronos. It causes us to jeer at and reject what is labelled as “old-fashioned” or “irrelevant” even when they are not. In arguing with each other about the best methodologies to adopt and implement, we often throw out non-negotiable principles from which those methodologies we love to argue over are derived.
There are things that change. There are those that do not. In mouthing phrases like “Change is the only constant”, we often lose sight of the fact that the principles of life have not changed. Perhaps some of their applications have, but not the principles themselves.
So, go ahead! Get a new car, new glasses, clothes, pen, electronic gadget or whatever takes your fancy and which you think will be more socially “acceptable.” Just remember why.