Interesting Times

Interesting Times 150 150 Ben Coker

Interesting Times

There’s an old Chinese saying “May you live in Interesting Times’.

What this means is living in times of great uncertainty and usually great change – which for most people means times of fear.

We have entered a new century and in doing so, as happens at the beginning of most centuries, we’ve entered an era of massive change.

Change scares people, maybe not you and I so much, but for most people it scares the living daylights out of them.

And it’s even worse when they don’t understand the changes that are taking place.

We’re in the middle of another revolution, we had the industrial revolution (which you could also call the capitalist revolution) and then, connected with two ‘world wars’ and major economic upheaval, a major philosophical or political revolution, depending on how you look at it, when peoples’ ideas of how the world worked – or should work – changed radically.

This is still going on as people slowly change their habits and their relationship with the environment – including their relationships with other people, complete with the inevitable ‘backlashes’, ‘revisionism’ and retreating back into the shell.

But this is fueled by another revolution that started in the first decade.

Some would call it the information revolution, but I prefer ‘communication revolution’ because the ‘information’ is sometimes spurious or meaningless, but the communication occurs, albeit sometimes one-way.

In the last century, only a tiny minority had any idea that we were about to gain access to a vast ‘communications array’ called the ‘world wide web’.

Thanks for that Sir Tim, but did you realise you might be creating a monster?

The thing is that this new ‘communications overload’ has created something that most people fear deeply.

Something that education systems around the world do not cater for and indeed often deny.

Something that people cannot control, because they cannot control the process that causes it.


People from an early age are taught to avoid this. They are taught to seek its opposite – certainty.

Most people crave certainty – knowing what’s going to happen or knowing that things will stay the same.

Knowing that they will continue to be safe inside their comfort zone and that they won’t have to think, they won’t have to adapt, and they won’t – worst of all – have to change!

People from an early age are taught and conditioned to have fixed ideas about their future – ‘the way it is and ever shall be’.

Ignoring of course the way it was – because that implies that things have changed and will continue to change. They don’t want to hear that, so they foolishly (even in the schools) look upon ‘history’ as a simple curiosity that means nothing for the ‘future’ (whenever that might be).

Peoples all over the world have completely misinterpreted the statement found in most ‘religious’ texts that goes something like “was, is and ever shall be”.

They think (and are taught) that it means that things will stay the same, but it doesn’t. It means that things have changed, are changing, and always will change.

Change is the way of the Universe, change is how everything evolves and grows.

But people don’t want to hear that, so they diligently seek out the two myths of ‘certainty’ and ‘security’.

Nothing is ‘certain’ – nothing is ‘secure’ (and you can read that two ways, but it amounts to the same concept).

Uncertainty leads to insecurity and insecurity leads to fear.

Insecurity leads to uncertainty and uncertainty leads to fear.

This is the ‘way of the world’, this is the environment that you and I, who care little about fear, have to cope with from everyone around us.

  • People afraid of learning something new or different
  • People afraid of losing what they supposedly ‘have’
  • People afraid of taking a step towards the edge of their comfort zone
  • People afraid of taking actions they need to take to evolve and grow

And so on – you and I hear it every day from the people around us and those we interact with.

So how do you and I deal with insecurity and uncertainty?

How do you and I deal with the ‘fear’ surrounding these?

Insecurity is a state of not being ‘secure’. Being ‘secure’ means essentially in a fixed state, a fixed paradigm, a fixed way of how things are and how things are done. Security is essentially a ‘static’ concept.

To cope with insecurity when this ‘stasis’ begins to break down you and I have to be flexible.

Flexibility neutralises the fear of insecurity, the fear that the ‘status quo’ might change.

Flexibility is about being able to cope with and enjoy whatever turns up.

Uncertainty is a state of not being ‘certain’ about the ‘future’ – and that may be what is likely to happen in the next five minutes, the next five months or the next five years. Being ‘certain’ means we know what is going to happen, it’s a ‘dynamic’ concept, albeit a total myth, because we never really ‘know’.

To cope with uncertainty – when we don’t know what’s going to happen next, you and I have to develop a spirit of adventure.

Adventure neutralises the fear of uncertainty, the fear the we don’t know where we’re going.

Adventure is about being able to cope with and enjoy whatever turns up.

Enjoy the day – and every day.

Enjoy your flexibility.

Enjoy your adventure.