Jim Webster: To be open to change
Steamboat Springs — About one month ago I wrote a letter to the editor about some people’s propensity to resist change despite overwhelming evidence the surrounding environment had altered. I referred to my frustration with the new layout at City Market in my search for frozen blueberries, the voters’ rejection of a plan for a new school and resistance to evidence of climate warming.
I subsequently had comments from friends about my observations of City Market, though less feedback on the issues of a new school and climate change. As for my search for frozen blueberries at City Market, I can say I found them located in the “dessert” section of the freezer next to the ice cream.
Virtually everything in this small freezer section is frozen fruit so why is this section not labeled frozen fruit? To me, the dessert signage is misleading, as I happen to eat my frozen blueberries at breakfast and not for dessert at dinner. I object to a so-called authority (i.e. City Market) telling me that frozen fruit is a dessert when clearly, in my mind, it is something else.
Of course, there are plenty of examples of an authority making pronouncements that, with hindsight, were clearly wrong. Aristotle, as well as the Pope in the middle ages, declared that the sun rotated around Earth, based on commonly held beliefs. The Pope even jailed Galileo for publishing scientific evidence to the contrary.
Today, we accept without a second thought Earth revolves around the sun, based on extensive research evidence. People rejected the church’s authority on this significant issue and adopted a new view.
In the case of the proposed plan for a new school, the authority in this case, i.e. the school board, declared that we needed a new school and it should be located west of town. However, many voters have no direct involvement with the public educational system and the School Board did not have enough stature on the issue to compel them to vote yes.
In the future, the board will have to provide much more convincing evidence for their plan to get approved. People will change their viewpoint if they are engaged directly in discussion and if their case is compelling.
As for the issue of climate change, people are much more interested in discussing the latest weather forecast and the snow report than listening to some authority tell them the earth is getting warmer. But surely people understand that weather and climate are ultimately connected, right?
Alas, once again, people have to come to terms with the supporting research and some authority telling them the climate is warming (and that this will impact their future weather).
In my opinion, most people should adopt (or reject?) new views on, say, a new supermarket layout, a new school location or even a fundamentally different view on the future evolution of Earth only after they take the time to understand both underlying research and credentials of the authority proposing the change.
My review of the classification of frozen blueberries as dessert by City Market might be an example of my unwillingness to accept a new view after considering all the factors. On second thought, I will accept that they can be classified as “dessert” when I call breakfast “dessert.” After all, the Earth was once flat.
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