Pick your battles

Spartan King LeonidasFor some reason, this phrase has been echoing around my head today.  My first response was to think, “But there are too many battles; I want to fight them all!”  And then I thought, what’s with the war metaphors? Why does everything have to be a battle? I need a better word, a better frame, a better metaphor.

Change is work, and no doubt, that’s what I try to do every single day.  Change myself, change people around me, change the world. Really.  But it’s not a battle, at least it shouldn’t be.  But what often happens is, people’s reaction to change is to get entrenched, to get defensive.  And see? There’s those war metaphors again.  So a battle ensues anyway, even if that’s not what I wanted.

Change is both a breaking down and a building up.  Change is often about examining existing structures and saying, hmm, these no longer work.  And so, you go about dismantling an old structure, so that you can build something new in its place.  Too often, the dismantling is what we focus on when what we should focus on is the new, the building that will make things better.  There’s a part in that for everyone unless they’re going to cling to the old structure.  They’re fighting a battle while everyone else is creating something new.

That describes how I think of change, as moving forward, building new things to make things better for everyone. I’m having a hard time seeing what’s happening in government right now as being quite the same thing. Certainly, things are changing.  Structures are being dismantled.  But are things being built to replace them?  If so, are they things that make the lives of most people better?

Are there people making the changes they’re making now who truly believe they are making people’s lives better?  I honestly don’t know.  My pessimistic view is that the changes they’re making are about benefitting a small group of people.  Certainly, some of the changes that have happened have hurt people.  My fear is that we might be hurting the whole system, that the change that’s coming literally tears the whole thing down with nothing planned to take its place.

In my personal life, in my work life, I try to work toward change by working with others.  I’m generally open to others’ ideas for change. I don’t tend to react by getting defensive or entrenched.  I assume the best in people.  I work with them to make their ideas better.

In this, in watching change happen at the national level, I’m at a loss for who to work with.  I haven’t seen that anyone has the country’s best interests at heart. And so, I feel embattled.  And so, I think, the battle begins.

2 Replies to “Pick your battles”

  1. I’m not sure if this works in the public sphere, but the metaphor I use is my work is choosing when to play my cards. I have limited number of cards (my reputation, my influence, my time) and I have to play them wisely.

    I offer it to you if you don’t like being too martial.

    I have, so far, chosen to use my cards only in my personal and work life, not in the wider sphere. Australia is different, but some of the things happening here make me think I should change that also.

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