“The more things change the more they stay the same”

By Major Brendan Nottle – Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614

I recently overheard a conversation between two older men. They were lamenting how dramatically life has changed in such a short space of time.  

“No-one inside local businesses. Just a few people on the streets, and when you do see someone, most of their face is covered with a mask! No-one shaking hands, in fact, people generally avoiding one another.”

The other man responded by saying “… and Port Power sit on top of the AFL ladder! What has actually #*!# happened to our world?!”

The wise old sages have a point … to an extent. The world has fundamentally and inexorably changed in a matter of months. Many are saying it has changed forever.

However, in many ways, the basic needs of we humans remain pretty much the same and has done so right throughout history.

The needs to be accepted for who we are, to be seen and heard, to be included and feel useful are needs that are deeply embedded in the psyche of every single human being. Significant increases in calls to organisations like Lifeline and Beyond Blue in recent weeks desperately highlights this point again.

Jean-Baptise Alphonse Karr, in 1849, the year after the French Revolution, apparently coined the phrase, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

How apt that saying is for the turbulent times that we are all experiencing today.

A young man recently spoke with me and said, “I’m terrified.  Not of COVID-19 or even dying, I just have no clue about how I will cope with being alone. I am actually frightened of the that idea.  Terrified, in fact.”

It is easy at times like this to curl up in a ball and give up. But at times like this, our needs are often reflected in others. Many surrounding us also need to be heard, accepted, welcomed and valued.

It was Mohammed Ali who once said, “service to others is the rent you pay for your room on the earth”.  That other great philosopher, Oprah Winfrey, took the concept a little further and once wrote, “helping others is the way to help ourselves.”

During these difficult and turbulent times, it is critical that we do not become, or remain, self-absorbed. Instead, as hard as it may be at times, we must lift up our eyes, look around and see that if we take the time to check in on others, listen to their story and value them as fellow human beings, we can have a profound impact on them as well as ourselves and our view of our current circumstances.

I encourage you to shine your light on others during these dark and difficult times •

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