Am I Right?

How to live ethically

Change, for Better or for Worse

Change can be source of hope or anxiety

"Those who would be constant in happiness or wisdom must change often," Confucius said.

Change is the way of the world. All matter is built up and torn down. Waters rise and fall again. Change can be a source of hope, for what is not good today may be made good tomorrow. Change can also be a source of anxiety, for what we love today may be gone tomorrow. In this manner, memory and change stand in opposition. Change is brought to us by nature and it is human nature to bring memory to bear as a form of preservation.

We remember the past so that we may preserve that which is good. We cultivate our values in the cradle of memory so that what we cherish may flourish yet again.

What to change and what to preserve, what to let go of and what to hold on to—these are matters of great judgment. To hold on too long may only be obstinacy; letting go too soon may be inconstancy. To keep for the sake of keeping may only be stubbornness and fear; to move on before its time may only be superficiality and fear. The former is the fear of losing, the latter the fear of being hurt.

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Nature imposes its changes upon us, but our good sense chooses how much to keep and how much to shed. The inevitability of change places the burden of choice upon us.


Arthur Dobrin, D.S.W., teaches applied ethics at Hofstra University. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of more than twenty books.


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