Resistance to Change: … Has America really made any progress?

Last year at this time, just a few weeks before the inauguration of America’s newest President, I published an article entitled “Change: Is America Ready for it?” … a few simple musings on the excitement of the day, which now seem eerily prophetic one year into this new Presidency …


I’m sure you remember the feelings of excitement, anticipation, and even trepidation at this time just one short year ago. So many people, not only in America, but around the world, held an aspiring hope within their hearts that a new era for humanity was finally beginning to unfold. They held the impossible dream that the election of one man who represented a “new way of leading” would, in and of itself, make all the difference.

But here we are now, just one short year later, and for many in America and around the globe, that bubble has already burst. The debt incurred to dig America out of its long-standing pit of fiscal irresponsibility has soared to astronomical levels; two wars whose swift ends were assured still rage on with increasing intensity; and America is as divided as ever on many domestic and political issues.

Are you surprised? I don’t mean to sound cynical … but I’m not.

Our Resistance to Change

In that article 12 months ago, I raised the question of whether or not America was ready for the kind of changes that their new Presidential prophet was pledging. I didn’t fault Mr. Obama then, and I don’t today … nor do I question his integrity. I believe that he genuinely does want to make America and the world a better place.

But the reality of steering a hopeful, but almost hopelessly stubborn population down the path toward saner living is not as simple as it may have seemed on paper. The game plan and the execution, as this eager new President has found out, are two entirely different things. When it comes right down to it, Americans, just like the rest of us, are not as eager to change our ways as we say we are.

If Americas are disappointed with the performance of their new commander in chief so far … and I know that a lot are … then they need to take a big reality pill.  As quick as so many were to place their hopes and dreams upon this enthusiastic and charismatic man, just as many now seem even quicker to pin the blame on him …

… when the blame really rest upon themselves.

Americans in increasing numbers are asking just what positive change this President has made, when they should be asking “what changes have we ourselves really been making?” Change is not just a word … it is an action that requires work.

For many, the significant change that is needed requires a lot more work than they would like to do. There is great resistance to change that is inherent in our human nature, which is why we’d rather have someone else, like a new President, “do the changing for us” … and preferably in a way that doesn’t affect us in any real uncomfortable way.

But do we really think that we can do what we’ve always done, and expect to get different results? Do we really think that cutting back on a few superfluous expenses and tightening our belts just a notch or two in tough times is really going to take us anywhere different in the long run?

In that article last January, I questioned whether or not Americans were ready to admit to themselves that it was more than just a changing of the guard that would make any difference … whether they were really ready to change what needed to be changed in order for life to not only be better for Americans, but for the rest of the world too.

Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri frequently used to tell his students, “You don’t have a problem … YOU are the problem.”  When more Americans (and most of the rest of us too!) finally realize this, perhaps then we will start to see that “change we really need” happen that was promised by that eager Senator from Illinois not so long ago …

Let’s Find the Courage to Change

In yoga we have a concept called sankalpa, which means a resolute commitment to something that will elevate us to great physical, emotional and spiritual levels.

With this New Year’s resolution, rather than aspiring to just shed a few pounds, it is my hope that more Americans and global citizens alike will be ready, willing and able to make a sankalpa for real change …

… that kind of change that will not only elevate themselves, but also provide a collective force to help lift the remainder of humanity a few more rungs up the ladder of saner, more evolved living.

About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam, and Editor of The Yoga News

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