Change Has Become Systemic

“In the past, people were helped to cope with change because they had what Alvin Toffler calls ‘personal stability zones.’ There were aspects of lives that did not change. Of these, the most important were a job for life, a marriage for life, and a place for life. Not everyone had them, but they were not rare. They gave people a sense of economic, personal and geographical continuity. They were the familiar that gave individuals strength to cope with the unfamiliar.”

“Today these things are becoming ever harder to find. Almost no job in the global market is permanent. More and more employment is becoming part-time, short-term and contractual. Even businesses like the great Japanese companies or IBM, which used to pride themselves on their lifelong commitment to employees, are no longer able to do so in the rapidly changing environment of modern business. Marriage, the very matrix of continuity in traditional societies, is rapidly being eroded by serial relationships, cohabitation and divorce. Fewer people are marrying. Fewer marriages last a lifetime. In Britain, four in every ten children are born outside marriage. Four in every ten marriages end in divorce. The very concept of belonging to a place, a neighbourhood, a locality – somewhere we belong and call home – has all but disappeared. We travel and move, often because our work demands it. In the United States twenty per cent of people change homes every year.”

“We face the maximum of uncertainty with the minimum of resources to protect us against insecurity. Change has become systemic. It no longer takes place within a frame of the things that do not change.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 61