By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
I like this quote, “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer
I am amazed by the speed of change. Whither it is technology, policy, procedures or just society it seems to be faster than the speed of light yet our adaptation to the change may not be. I have seen the results of both the “learner” and the “learned”. The learner adapts, embraces and then runs with the ball. The learned does not seem to see the need for change. The old ways were just fine.
A friend of mine is a “learned”. He scoffs at cell phones, cable TV, computers and the like. He reads a newspaper delivered to his home every day and pays 3 times the price for that subscription. Don’t mention Google to him because he is above all that. He looks down on the “learners” because they don’t fit in his comfortable world. He uses maps, the paper kind, and looks things up in the dictionary and reference books. That works for him. The problem I find is a lack of communication with others due to his familiarity of change. A few years back his company gave him a fax machine. He was having trouble with it and called me to ask if I would send him a fax so he could check out his machine. I had to tell him it’s been years since I owned a fax machine. Shortly thereafter his company tried to get him a computer but he refused because he had a fax machine. I guess he didn’t see the difference. To him Wi-Fi is a mystery, Bluetooth is voodoo and the internet is a terror. As a “learned” he is beautifully equipped in a world that no longer exist.
I want to consider myself a “learner” but there are times I do find myself slipping into the “learned” attitude. I get comfortable or familiar with my old cell phone and don’t see the need for an upgrade. At times I catch myself thinking the way we were doing things was fine so why change them. I come to the realization my latest computer program is 10 years old and now not as compatible with other programs it interacts with and I wonder how did that happen. Sometimes in order to be a “learner” we need to be educated as to why the change needs to take place.
I look back with a fond memory of owning a 35MM camera with film, processed Kodachrome slides and photos. I look back and see my old stereo system with LPs, then cassettes and CDs. I look back at landlines with those cool pushbutton phones. I look back at walking into a bank and a store and doing business face to face with a person. I look back and realize that as a “learner” I have combined all those things into a small device I can hold in my hand and I like the convenience of that.
So when change presents itself make an attempt to embrace it. Be a “learner”! Should that not work out you can easily prepare to become a “learned” and be equipped to live in a world that no longer exist. I want to send out my thanks to Eric Hoffer for opening my eyes and challenging me to be a learner. I am doing my best.
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