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  • Writer's pictureCatherine M. Orr

Why Change Is Scary

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Yep, change is scary--even when we really want change. And we do want it, right? Yes, and sometimes no.


Because those of us who get real excited about institutional change (the stuff that happens outside of us) too often use it as our alibi to get away from the work that demands that WE change (that stuff that happens inside us): our emotional investments in white supremacy culture, our attachments to what makes us comfortable, our unquestioned assumptions about what--and who--matters in our everyday worlds. Sometimes, our demands for others to change keeps us distracted from the stuff that we need to change to bring about the more just world we hope to live in. This is especially true for those of us who are white. Coming to this realization--that we always already need to be open to change--is part of what we call the deep Soulwork of Equity.

A couple of years ago, we were talking with Dr. David Anderson Hooker, Associate Professor at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, when he came to our campus to consult with our leadership team. As we sat in a little coffee shop downtown and recounted our stories of exasperation and anger about all those people we felt were getting in the way of the change we wanted to happen, he smiled and asked us if we--those of us who were doing all this DEI work--were actually ready to occupy that future. He asserted that who we were in that moment would actually have a place in the future we were so desperately trying to create. Stunned, we just sort of sat there. An expletive or two probably came up. And we had to rethink.

Of course, it's not like a single course correction does the trick. The Soulwork of Equity is never checked off. It's a lifelong process. And if we remain open to it, we can experience the JOY of the journey with others.

How about you? Is it easier to demand change than consider changing yourself? What does it take to do both/and--both demanding the change and remaining accountable to changing to fit the world we want to create?

#institutionalchange #equitywork #soulwork #resistingwhitesupremacy #dei #highered

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