Saturday, December 16, 2006

People do

I concede there could be exceptions. Maybe I don’t mean the person you thought had stopped doing hard drugs and is now nowhere to be found. Nor the guy who cheated on his wife. Again.

But I do mean your friend. The one you tactfully point out to that that thing he does is actually kind of self-destructive, to which he replies, “I can’t help it. I’m too old to change.”

Inevitably, someone says it with a sigh and a shake of the head.

People don’t change.

Saying “people don’t change” is a cop out. It’s so defeatist. It’s more than just pessimistic. It’s fatalistic. It’s like saying there is no point to the exercise that is life. It’s turning your back on you, on your ability to be better, to grow, to learn the lesson. It’s giving up on the (flawed, but oh, so hopeful) human race.

I’ve heard “people don’t change” so many times that it never occurred to me to question it. But, guess what? I know for certain that people do. I’m the closest person I can point to. My husband changed me. My work changed me. I know that in many fundamental ways I’m the same person I used to be twenty years ago, but also know that in other – equally fundamental ways – I’m not the person I used to be. Sometimes for the worse (for example, I used to be more of a fighter), but mostly for the better (for example, I used to be more of a fighter.)

People change through being dedicated to something. They change when they are loved. They change when they decide it’s time to, when whoever they are is just not working anymore.

Of course, change is not always a good thing. People often change for the worse. All I’m saying is that if it’s possible for people to change for the worse, then it’s at least just as likely for people to change for the better.

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