“Change has never happened
this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.”1
Graeme Wood wrote these words to describe the ways social media and technology have redefined
communication. The fact that you’re reading a blog right now is example of such
change. An increased velocity to change
seems to be the norm in the modern era. In fact, we have come to expect it of
our technology, and this expectation is extrapolated to the multitudes of evolutions
of thought, culture, and policy … and for our society as a whole.
however, does not always equate to progress. Why not?
accelerating pace of change, and change itself, is uncomfortable. Wood’s quote serves
as an emotional epithet for the shaky ground that is inherent to change. Discomfort with change, being on unsteady foundations
and uncertain futures, sometimes prompts instinctive reactions towards
homeostasis – seeking what is known and grounding. These reactions are pitfalls, however, when
they prevent perspective-sharing and dialogue.
Dialogue, as defined by Peter Senge2, is a willingness to
share and question one’s own worldview, while also being willing to hear and be
influenced by another’s worldview.
Engaging in dialogue serves the purpose of exploring and expanding one’s
“pool of meaning” through conversation and critical personal reflection.
Andrew S. Valeras from Senge2
changes are made without a willingness to engage in dialogue, a tension is created
between those who strive towards change and those who resist it. Those who do not need change are often in a position of privilege, and for those
individuals, change does not feel like progress, but like loss, particularly
when the change threatens the status quo of privilege and power.
It is this
tension – for and against change – that seems to be driving the debate, not a
discussion, surrounding HB2, the North Carolina House Bill3 also
known as the “bathroom bill” and widely considered to be anti-LGBT. [To be
clear, I oppose HB2, as does CFHA, in that it goes against the fundamental
values of inclusion and integration of all forms of diversity, including gender
expression.] All of us are seeking ways to feel safe, not necessarily from each
other, but in a world that is changing too fast for some and not changing quickly
enough for others. HB2 serves as a symbol of control. It is the assertion of a
worldview, not to expand the pool of meaning, but in attempt to slow, halt and
even reverse the momentum of change. It is a policy that acts like a door,
separating not only individuals, but attempting to shut out progress.
How does CFHA remain relevant in such a rapidly
and gradually-changing and politically-charged environment?
CFHA can grow in an uncertain future by continuing
to demonstrate and model the tenets of an adaptive organization. We, as individuals
and as an organization, can seek to understand, to be part of, and to adapt to
the environment by how we thoughtfully choose to act, not react, upon it.
We can engage in dialogue with each other, and with those with opposing
worldviews. A call to revoke HB2 and to boycott North Carolina may lead to
change, but it will not be progress.
Progress can only come when those with privilege are not coerced to
change, but understand and aknowledge the
need for the change. CFHA, as a
collective voice of its members, is pushing ahead that work by obtaining,
sharing and advocating for the narratives of those without privilege, and the
impact an inequitable system has on people’s lives – on their health, their
families, at work, at school, on the bus, on the street.
The 2016 CFHA
Conference theme of “many faces and places of integration” embodies an
opportunity to bring people together and strive for dialogue. We can be part of the change, helping set the
incredible pace, rather than be overrun by it, by recognizing actions like HB2
for what they are. Remaining steadfast
to the mission of CFHA, while providing the secure space to regroup, allows
CFHA the momentum to push the next door down – and maybe the next door knocked
down will be a bathroom door in North Carolina. I hope to see you there.
P. (2006). The Fifth Discipline. NY: Doubleday Publishers.
Carolina House Bill 2. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v4.pdf
S. Valeras, DO, MPH is a faculty physician at NH Dartmouth Family Medicine
Residency. He received his undergraduate
degrees in Biology and Philosophy from Boston College, his Doctor of Osteopathy
from Midwestern University, and his Masters of Public Health at The Dartmouth
Institute. Dr. Valeras completed both
the NH Dartmouth Family Medicine
Residency and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Leadership Preventive Medicine Residency.
Dr. Valeras currently seeks to integrate
quality improvement and systems based thinking with the clinical practice and
education of family medicine providers in integrated teams. Dr. Valeras does this through the [Systems]
course, taught via 320 hours of longitudinal experiential learning, over three
years for primary care teams. Dr.
Valeras currently serves as a Board Member for CFHA.