Place Corps Blog #3: Week of Sep 2

Place Corps Blog #3: Week of Sep 2

Freedom to Change

Octavia Butler’s Parables profess, “the only lasting truth is change.” Why then can it feel so challenging to invite change into our lives, into our minds, and into our actions? And why is it so challenging to change others?

In his Ted Talk, Johnathan Haidt suggests that our political identities find their roots in our moral psychology, and that differing psychologies often develop within different groups. He goes on to share how our minds can facilitate us to entrench our political identities within the particular group psychology/ies we’re socialized into. And psychologically, the act of aligning with our particular “in-group” can help us feel more secure. Of course, when we look at our current political contexts, and through the arc of human histories, we can also see the negative impacts of an “in-group” / “out-group” mentality. In order to better understand and relate to one another, Johnathan suggests it’s within our collective interest to question against our entrenched identities and strive to look beyond the mentalities that divide.

Johnathan’s talk aligns with our work on conflict with Maya. Like the conflict that arises between political groups, conflict between individuals often comes about from a difference of thinking, feeling, and / or being. We come into our daily interactions with a mental and emotional wiring we’ve spent years developing, and when someone behaves contrary to what our wiring deems “right”, we can find ourselves in conflict. The challenge is to consider what possibilities exist beyond our wiring. Fortunately, it’s possible to look beyond our wiring and it’s even possible to rewire. What is not possible, however, is to change someone else’s wiring. We see this with interpersonal conflict in a group home and in our national politics. Despite our best efforts to change others, the only person we’re capable of changing is ourselves. Change necessitates the ability and the will to do so. If someone doesn’t want to change, they won’t. Similarly, we can call for change, but if we are not willing to invite that change into our lives and bodies, we’ll find our efforts fruitless.

Which leads to freedom.

Freedom can be defined as the power to think and act without restraint. For many of us, I believe, it’s easy to name restraints external to us, those that are placed upon and over us. But what about the restraints that live within us, within our minds? Do we allow our political identities to keep us from treating other human beings with dignity? Do we allow our mental and emotional wiring to block us from truly hearing others and seeing new possibilities?

To make change in the ways we wish, we must allow ourselves the freedom to change. In order for others to change, they must allow that same freedom.


When we came together Tuesday morning after the long weekend, many of us shared feelings of renewed and shifting energy, and an orientation towards new possibilities. Others spent the morning, and much of this week, nursing late-summer colds, perhaps their bodies’ way of telling them, “change is in the air.” One could say (I would say) that Fridays’s new moon birthed and billowed those winds of change.

As they work their way around us and through us, I offer deep gratitude: gratitude for change, and gratitude for this place in which we are free to embrace that change in all the ways it longs to manifest and bloom, so long as we allow.


Jordan Williams