In poems “Mending Wall”, “Slam, Dunk, & Hook”, “Common Ground” and essay “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Education”, authors Frost, Komunyakaa, Cofer and Kolvenbach (respectively), explore different reactions to the idea of change and change itself. The four authors show how change or even the anticipation of change can cause fear of or result in resistance to the change. Negative reactions to change or the anticipation of it can be driving forces for people, the result of which has the potential to affect anyone from the individual itself, to a small group of people, to even an entire nation.
The word change receives a negative connotation. People see change as a loved one passing away, a family member losing a job, moving away from home; any number of circumstances can make change appear to be a bad thing. Change is inevitable though. As Cofer says “Blood tells the story of your life/ in heartbeats as you live it;” Life will not stop because of fear, no matter how much people might want it to. Many people find themselves wishing they could pause time, remain in just one moment. As Komunyakaa puts it, “Created, we could almost/ last forever, poised in midair.” Those moments that are deemed as perfect or ‘Kodak moments’ are the ones people wish would last; any change from that happy moment would be a bad thing.
The potential consequences of change scare people into becoming static. People cling to what they know, what has always worked for them. When Frost talks about rebuilding the stone wall in his poem, he, as the narrator, wonders why the neighbor insists the wall be put back up. The narrator muses, “He will not go behind his father’s saying.” The neighbor will not go against what he has always been taught, what he has always done. While there is not anything necessarily bad about what has been established, the customary rebuilding of the wall, the narrator finds himself wondering why there is a wall in the first place. The narrator is willing to go beyond his comfort zone, step outside the walls of his usual world, where the neighbor is very steadfast in his opinion that good fences make for good neighbors. The neighbor, like many others, does not want to upset the supposed balance of his life, change what has been a constant in his life.
The consistency can be comfortable. Always knowing what is coming, what to expect adds a sense of security in a rather hectic world. While many in the middle or the upper class might find themselves content with their positions in the world, there are also those who are living below the poverty line, who would welcome change with open arms. Kolvenbach comments that “[people] are simply not willing to pay the price of a more just and more humane society.” People do not know what might come of helping those who really need it, perhaps fearing as in the case of the Mexicans coming to America, that their jobs would be taken away. There are numerous reasons why people fear change, but no matter the reason, the result is still the same: nothing. Kolvenbach argues against such fear and complacency, saying “we can no longer pretend that the inequalities and injustices of our world must be borne as part of the inevitable order of things.” Parts of the world are in such disastrous states that people cannot afford to simply do nothing. It is the hope of Kolvenbach, the Society of Jesus, and Jesuit institutions everywhere that people, as they grow, grow and change to not only better themselves but better society as a whole.
The world cannot be bound by fear. Lives are destroyed, people are hurt or killed all because people are afraid of change. If people can work to accept that change will happen, they hopefully will learn to welcome change as a sign of more possibilities and a better future.