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The Change Pace Paradox

Posted By Andy Valeras, Friday, June 10, 2016



  "Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.”1


Graeme Wood wrote these words to describe the ways social media and technology have redefined communication. The fact that you’re reading a blog right now is example of such change. An increased velocity to change seems to be the norm in the modern era. In fact, we have come to expect it of our technology, and this expectation is extrapolated to the multitudes of evolutions of thought, culture, and policy … and for our society as a whole.


Change, however, does not always equate to progress. Why not?

The accelerating pace of change, and change itself, is uncomfortable. Wood’s quote serves as an emotional epithet for the shaky ground that is inherent to change. Discomfort with change, being on unsteady foundations and uncertain futures, sometimes prompts instinctive reactions towards homeostasis - seeking what is known and grounding. These reactions are pitfalls, however, when they prevent perspective-sharing and dialogue. Dialogue, as defined by Peter Senge2, is a willingness to share and question one’s own worldview, while also being willing to hear and be influenced by another’s worldview. Engaging in dialogue serves the purpose of exploring and expanding one’s "pool of meaning” through conversation and critical personal reflection.


Adapted by Andrew S. Valeras from Senge2


When changes are made without a willingness to engage in dialogue, a tension is created between those who strive towards change and those who resist it. Those who do not need change are often in a position of privilege, and for those individuals, change does not feel like progress, but like loss, particularly when the change threatens the status quo of privilege and power.


It is this tension – for and against change – that seems to be driving the debate, not a discussion, surrounding HB2, the North Carolina House Bill3 also known as the "bathroom bill” and widely considered to be anti-LGBT. [To be clear, I oppose HB2, as does CFHA, in that it goes against the fundamental values of inclusion and integration of all forms of diversity, including gender expression.] All of us are seeking ways to feel safe, not necessarily from each other, but in a world that is changing too fast for some and not changing quickly enough for others. HB2 serves as a symbol of control. It is the assertion of a worldview, not to expand the pool of meaning, but in attempt to slow, halt and even reverse the momentum of change. It is a policy that acts like a door, separating not only individuals, but attempting to shut out progress.

How does CFHA remain relevant in such a rapidly and gradually-changing and politically-charged environment?


CFHA can grow in an uncertain future by continuing to demonstrate and model the tenets of an adaptive organization. We, as individuals and as an organization, can seek to understand, to be part of, and to adapt to the environment by how we thoughtfully choose to act, not react, upon it. We can engage in dialogue with each other, and with those with opposing worldviews. A call to revoke HB2 and to boycott North Carolina may lead to change, but it will not be progress. Progress can only come when those with privilege are not coerced to change, but understand and aknowledge the need for the change. CFHA, as a collective voice of its members, is pushing ahead that work by obtaining, sharing and advocating for the narratives of those without privilege, and the impact an inequitable system has on people’s lives - on their health, their families, at work, at school, on the bus, on the street.


The 2016 CFHA Conference theme of "many faces and places of integration” embodies an opportunity to bring people together and strive for dialogue. We can be part of the change, helping set the incredible pace, rather than be overrun by it, by recognizing actions like HB2 for what they are. Remaining steadfast to the mission of CFHA, while providing the secure space to regroup, allows CFHA the momentum to push the next door down – and maybe the next door knocked down will be a bathroom door in North Carolina. I hope to see you there.


1. Wood, G. (2009). 

2. Senge, P. (2006). The Fifth Discipline. NY: Doubleday Publishers.

3. North Carolina House Bill 2. 


Andrew S. Valeras, DO, MPH is a faculty physician at NH Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency.  He received his undergraduate degrees in Biology and Philosophy from Boston College, his Doctor of Osteopathy from Midwestern University, and his Masters of Public Health at The Dartmouth Institute.  Dr. Valeras completed both the NH Dartmouth  Family Medicine Residency and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Leadership Preventive Medicine Residency.  Dr. Valeras currently seeks to integrate quality improvement and systems based thinking with the clinical practice and education of family medicine providers in integrated teams.  Dr. Valeras does this through the [Systems] course, taught via 320 hours of longitudinal experiential learning, over three years for primary care teams.  Dr. Valeras currently serves as a Board Member for CFHA.

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