I have changed.
Three utterly useless words, that inspired me to write this post.
It obviously makes sense to use when you are describing the change in yourself within certain time frames, your values perhaps may have evolved, you educated yourself more, you changed your habits, etc. But this is not the case I am addressing now. I want to talk about situations when someone have wronged you, and they decided to take it upon themselves to change your mind about them, how they attempt to achieve that, and why.
Why apologize? Why change your behaviour, why start with an honest conversation, why admit to your wrongdoings, and offer a retribution? That’s for all those naive mature people. That’s what we tell children they must do. Children must admit, apologize, and then be forgiven. But we, adults, we better do what people are taught best – to avoid, and misplace the responsibility.
If someone tells you they have changed, usually it does not mean it’s true. Usually they simply want to trick you into thinking they have changed, so that they can cut themselves off from past events, avoid taking responsibility for them, and to remove consequences of their past actions – which is, for example, you predicting things, and accurately expecting shitty behavior from them. They want you to feel good about them, without putting any real effort into it. They expect you to stop being judgemental, “I have changed, from now on what you think or feel negatively regarding my person is on you. I expect you to no longer hold me responsible for the past, I want a clear start that is going to only take your emotional labor, I will only declare myself another label, and let’s move on”.
If someone truly has changed, their actions speak louder than words. You see the change, you don’t have to have it rubbed in your face with their declarations. People care about labels all too much, the hypocrisy arises, you can see everywhere people wanting to be called, for example “empathetic”, “animal lovers”, “mature”, “intelligent”, “good-hearted”, “responsible”, but they lack what it really takes to be it for real. Not to suggest such thing does not exist, I am simply stating I have not seen that in my experience, but I have never met a person with noble qualities, who has never put serious, constant work into it. Who have not torn themselves into pieces, to then analyze, and carefully put back together, and then repeat the process again, and again, and forever.
I do believe we can be, and often are, born noble. We are born caring, vulnerable, curious, insightful. But the world, often starting with people as close as our own family, then our school environment, etc., will challenge those traits. And sadly, not challenge in the good way. Our society is repressing morality, so that it can keep the status quo. What would have happened if really everyone was so good-hearted? Responsible? We would not allow 90% of things that are happening to ever happen. We would abolish systems just like that, we would hold the wrongdoers responsibile for their actions. We would not look away, when animals are tortured, when our planet is destroyed, purely for our convienience.
If a child was to be asked if they would give away their lunch to a homeless, starving person – would they? I think, in great majority, yes. Will a child want to kill an animal, torture it, just to have its body parts as accessories, offered that chance? I don’t think so. Is it an easy concept for a child to grasp, that if they’re making a mess, they need to clean it, and it’s not fair to leave everything to a hard-working mother? I don’t see why not.
But what happens to that when we become adults?
Our childlike nature is repressed. I don’t think anyone needs to be told that, we all experienced it at some point. The hypocrisy, the pressure. To look away when something bad is happening. To avoid getting into conflicts, to not defend the weaker, to mind your own business, to not pay attention to the struggling. To not be happy with simple things, to not be ever enough, to only ever want more, and more, both in terms of consumption, and in terms of superficial achievements, to define yourself with. To look away from discomforts you are causing to other people, to animals, to the world. To pretend, put on a mask, get credit for what’s really not your accomplishment, and just live the way we want everyone to live. Anyone who stands out, who tries to change that, who tries to act on those childlike instincts, on empathy, on values, on justice, on responsiblity – is ridiculed and frown upon at best. At worst they’re violently fought into obedience.
The path to achieve what we want to be, is to see through the smoke and mirrors, and fight our way to become the child again. What we see as wisdom and big heart in elderly people, this is what they have achieved. After learning how to be an adult in this cruel world, they have relearned how to be a child. And I am not talking about neurological degradation. I am talking about how they learn to reject what is normal, what is expected from them. They wake up eventually, and realize what really is important in life, and how much more they can learn from children, than from most adults.
I wish that to every one of you. Be the child again.