The Times They Are A-Changin’… But Are We?
Come gather ‘round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
— Bob Dylan
In January of 1964, when Bob Dylan wrote his classic song, “The times, they are a-changin,” there was much turbulence in our society. The Vietnam War was escalating and America’s and the worlds involvement and motives were being challenged from within. A mere five months earlier Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood at the Mall in Washington, DC and passionately delivered his “I have a dream” speech that electrified the nation.
Civil rights had become a national issue (finally) and women’s rights were ascending to new heights of awareness. It was, as many in that generation referred to it, the dawning of the age of aquarius — a time when the “energy of life” would be perceived differently because things were happening at a quickened pace. All things were possible; man went to the moon and returned, nuclear war was averted, Beatle mania swept the world and skirts got shorter and shorter as trousers got wider and wider.
This new energy was welling up from within the very soul of humanity. I was in infant school at the end of the decade and so my perspective of it all was fairly juvenile. Nonetheless, I remember the feeling of anticipation and angst moving through me and those around me. It was obvious that change was at hand and no one really knew what that meant, what it would look like or when and where it would happen.
However, the die had been cast in the collective consciousness and we would all be part of the process, whether we liked it or not. Some would fight it, some would welcome it, but either way, change was underway. For me and many in my generation, it was the beginning of a growing sense of interconnectedness with all of humankind. With generosity, peace and brotherhood being laid as the foundation, the “system” was being challenged to change its ways.
As I entered adulthood, the bedrock of British society was under severe challenge. Punk threated anarchy against the establishment; the government fought the trade unions in bitter battles; the IRA troubles were at their peak and we were at war in the Falklands. We were also encouraged to “Get on our Bikes” and offered the opportunity to buy our council home and make “loads of money” working in the city. The focus of Society shifted from the collective to the individual, from the establishment to the fragmented, not at all dissimilar to what is occurring today. The question in Dylan’s song seems as appropriate now as it did over 50 years ago: If we don’t see the changes occurring (as challenging as some appear to be) as opportunities to evolve, we might just metaphorically “sink like a stone” under the wave of change. Perhaps that’s a poet’s way of stating the universal imperative, “Grow or die.”
So, the question that really matters is, how do we see and interact with the changes occurring in our lives today? We already know that change in life is a given. There is no way around this fact. The larger concern should be how we manage the process when it does happen. If we are conscious, we can perceive change in a manner that allows us to understand the deeper meaning, value, and purpose in the experience.
Are we fighting or welcoming the change which is knocking at our door today?
As a species, as a nation, as a church family, as an individual we are facing many changes. Our natural world is reminding us that we cannot continue to rape and pillage it as we have. As a nation we leave the European Union in March next year. As a Church we vacate our home in January. As individuals life is constantly changing whether it be the challenges of growing up or growing old. If you and I are willing to see what is going on in the world through the eyes of spiritually awakened beings, it will be obvious that what is happening in our individual lives, our country and our world has all the signs of a pending paradigm shift that has been years in its unfolding.
Individuals are challenging multinationals and governments to tackle single plastic use. Regardless of whether you agree with the decision, there is a momentum to see the UK make the best of the choice it has made to leave the EU and to establish a place in the world for brand GB. As a church we want to honour all of the memories woven into the fabric of the church building, building on the legacy of these as we look forward to returning home.
Dylan was right: Great change is at hand and we can either ride the crest of the wave and go with the flow, or sink below it like a stone.
But others have also been right -Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Those who “have eyes” to see that this is so will find it an exciting time to be on the planet; and they will be energized by the changes taking place rather than swallowed up by them.
There is no question about it; the times, they are a-changin’. The real question is, are we?Tags: Dial M, Magazine