“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”-Mahatma Gandhi
Are we here to continually learn and grow? There is something about the human condition that causes us to reject change. I think it’s the pain that accompanies growth. But without change there is no new learning, no growth. Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against the British reminds us that life is for living and continually learning. As I remember my younger self, I was always asking the question, why? Questioning everything is what we do as youth but then we mature, we tend to change from being the person who is asking the questions into the person who wants to pass along the wisdom. Oddly, each generation wishes to pass its wisdom forward to the next generation completely unchallenged! Of course, that is not how we or the world evolves. I’m learning that as we grow we must accept change and embrace its accompanying discomfort. That’s just the truth.
Change is challenging. American sexual mores have shifted greatly. Ideas and values once considered wrong based on traditional taboos and scriptural interpretations are now considered simply a matter of natural inclination and personal choice. Racial intermarriage is common, people are affirming sexual choices that were once shrouded in secrecy. Individuals who feel that their physical bodies and emotional gender identifications do not match can surgically have their physical gender reassigned. Transgendered is now a common part of the lexicon. I often feel as though we are moving towards a time when gender roles and identities will not exist. Honestly, that’s frightening to me because it’s different from what I understand. As our culture rapidly changes many are struggling to keep up. Personally, I’m often uncomfortable with change coming so fast and trying to reconcile the change with my own values. I know I’m not alone.
Change is scary and yet there are many benefits of change. As a contrast to the rapid-fire challenges to our cultural and social “norms,” I am keenly aware that our possibilities for longevity are accelerated by amazing healthcare advances. In 1950 the average life span for a Black woman was 63 years. My mother will be 95 years old in January! Medical advancements in the way we treat chronic disease and the United States the relative abundance to clean water, wholesome food and sanitation have made it a reasonable expectation that my mother will reach 100 years.
In the 80’s when AIDS, the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV pandemic struck there was no knowledge of what it was or how to cure it; there was only fear and superstition. For decades AIDS was a death sentence and yet there were people that asked, “Why can’t we find a cure?” The answer was to continue learning and trying new things. And now, only 40 years later, because of the unwillingness of sufferers, the general public and medical researchers to accept needless deaths as a reasonable outcome to the deadly virus, there are new ways to stop the spread of HIV and ways to make the virus undetectable and non-transferrable in the human body. That medical breakthrough came because the reality of what was known was challenged. A massive amount of funding, learning with each uncomfortable failure until they had learned enough to make an impact on solving the problem.
There are so many problems to be solved. So many diseases to be cured. In the last decade, besides HIV treatments that make HIV undetectable, an entire face can be transplanted from one human to another, organs and limbs are routinely replaced, and stem cell transplants are advancements are curing sickle cell disease. My mother is one of the fifty million people afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. I hope that like HIV, Alzheimer’s will get the dedicated research minds and funding so that a cure will be found. With thousands and thousands of brilliant minds learning from trial and error the hope is new information will find a way to stop this horrifying disease.
I’m excited at what the world will be like when our cultural revolution, technical knowledge, and our spiritual attributes come into alignment. What a wonderful world that will be!
Susan D. Peters
Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Broken Dolls, Susan’s second book, represents her foray into the mystery market and is the first of a series featuring Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. Her most recent publication is Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Her work is featured in three anthologies, Baring It All, the Ins and Outs of Publishing, Signed, Sealed, Delivered … I’m Yours, a contemporary romance anthology, and The Anthology of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Buy her books online and at www.SusanDPeters.com.
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