Saturday, November 25, 2006


Do people really change?

As we grow older … do we really change?

I often hear people say, “He or she will never change”

We all know the axiom, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.

This Christmas season, you are all likely to see at least one interpretation of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. As I am sure you know, it is the Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, named Ebenezer Scrooge. Mr. Scrooge is a moneychanger who has spent his life concentrating on the accumulation of wealth. He holds anything other than wealth in contempt including friendship, love and the Christmas season.

Ebenezer undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one evening. Several spirits visit Scrooge throughout the night, omnisciently showing him his Past, Present, and Future. These time traveling visions cause him to change his life. He reverts to the generous, kind-hearted soul he was in his youth before the death of his sister.

I have always liked this story a lot. A guilty pleasure for me is the 1988 film version “Scrooged” staring Bill Murray. My favorite part is when the prop guys, despite their best efforts, cannot get the little antlers to stay on the heads of the live mice to be used in the live TV production. Bill Murray asks, “Have you tried staples?”

The idealist in me believes in this story, and the important moral contained within … “It is not too late to turn it all around”. Unfortunately, in real life, I think we more often see the dark side of change.

A girl I know often talks about her ex boyfriend. Although she dated him for a very long time, and they loved one another, he was consistently abusive to her in various ways. After six years she finally came to the conclusion that he would never change, and has painfully closed the book on him.

Another example is a close friend of mine. He used to optimistically wear his heart on his sleeve. He came from a divorced family, which is not unusual growing up in NYC, but he firmly believed in true love. In college, he met this girl and fell deeply in love with her. Over a period of time she cheated on him time and time again. With each act of deceit, I could see the idealism drain away. One final betrayal, later in their relationship, was especially humiliating, and it knocked him to his knees.

Eventually he and this girl broke up, but the fatal blow came many years later when she called him to tell him that her current boyfriend was beating her and threatening her life. He confided in me that this actually cut the deepest. He had loved her so very much. Yet here she was, years later, willing to accept violence and death threats over him.

After that, he was never the same. He became quite cold and callous. He didn’t treat girls that badly, but he didn’t care about them whatsoever. He had been undeniably changed for the worse. The one thing that impressed me about this guy was that he did not perpetuate a cycle of cheating. He just ceased to really care anymore.

I think this cycle of duplicity can be, and often is, perpetuated. It is no coincidence that more than half of sexual predators have been victims of sexual abuse themselves, while more than a quarter had been victims of incest. Similarly, some victims of school bullies transform into bullies themselves and seek out their own victims. This type of cyclical “change” has a negative domino effect.

Now that I have you all ready to jump off a cliff, give this some thought. The cycle works both ways.

Peace activist, Anne Herbert, and college professor, Chuck Wall, helped coin the phrase “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty". However it is Larry Stewart (Below), a 58 year-old businessman from Kansas City who best personifies it. For over 25 years this “Secret Santa” has spent the holiday season giving away money to people in need.

He has only now revealed his identity, because he has developed esophageal cancer. Along with this condition comes a treatment costing close to $20,000 a month. Naturally, his scumbag insurance company will not pay for this treatment. I think it is time for all his good karma to come back to him. I wish I personally had the money to pay for every cent of his treatment. His story is found here.

If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change.

~John A. Simone, Sr.

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Blogger angela said...

well, hello peter. thanks for your comment and for introducing yourself to me...

i've enjoyed snooping around your blog and youtube videos this morning. you're "all over the place", and it's quite entertaining.

you get an A+ for using that gorgeous Moby song and for listing "Galliopi" as a favorite. i just recently saw it for the first time.
my personal opinion? the ending was shite, but i blame myself for my disappointment. i should have given up my naive, romantic ideals years ago. don't tell my friends. they think i'm a sarcastic twat.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:02 PM  
Blogger the fourth person said...

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
~W.H. Auden

1:21 PM  
Blogger the fourth person said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:22 PM  
Blogger dusty said...


12:19 AM  
Blogger claudia said...

Normally I avoid blogs with depth but you're too damn entertaining, Peter.

Anyway, don't feel guilty about liking Scrooged. It beats the crap out of The Santa Clause.

3:33 PM  
Blogger meesh said...

Ah yes. 'Tis the season for more random acts of kindness. :) I hope he gets the help he needs for thoses bills. I can't imagine what kind of insurance he has that won't cover it, but this is America after all, and you don't have to imagine. It's just the way things work. Ugh.

(sigh) Now I have to go home and rent Scrooged. I love the part where the little pink fairy womps Bill Murray over the head with the toaster. Mmmm...the holidays....

6:10 PM  
Blogger BBC said...

"As we grow older … do we really change?"

Some people do, some don't.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that I defy convention and continue to grow and change. I hope I never become so proud and obstinate that I refuse to learn.

Thanks for sharing this information. I'll definitely check out the secret santa!

10:38 PM  
Anonymous 'Becca said...

I think our personality traits are established early -- whether through nature or nurture -- then life experiences determine which get expressed and which get squashed. I think we have some control over our own evolution, but a lot is circumstantial. Change your circumstances, change yourself.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Very thought provoking.

I like who I am; I hope I never change. :)

12:08 PM  
Blogger JosephintheBracknell said...

If one cell of your body dies and another one is created, are you a different person?

What if every cell in your body was replaced with an exact duplicate? Would you be a different person?

Speaking of non-changing cliches, I think you left out, "a leopard never changes his spots."

6:42 PM  
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12:44 AM  
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3:05 PM  

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