Monday, October 10, 2011

Making Change

It used to be that a basic skill everyone learned was to "make change". This skill allowed one to give the correct change to someone else and also enabled the change recipient to make sure the correct change had been given. Nowadays, cashiers count on their cash registers to tell them the amount of change the customer should receive. The art of "making change" is being lost.
 I am sure there are different ways to make change, but the way I learned involved counting back up to the amount that had been paid. For those who have never learned, suppose an item totalled $1.13 and the customer paid with a $20 bill. Counting up from $1.13, two pennies make .15 and a dime makes .25, add three quarters to total two dollars, three singles to total five dollars, another five is ten dollars and finally a ten dollar bill adds up to $20. It makes more sense when you see it done, but trust me, that would make the correct change. I might have to pause and calculate to tell you the amount, but I am confident the change is made correctly. What would happen if the next time I made a purchase I asked the cashier to make the change herself instead of relying on the cash register? I suspect she would be so used to just counting out what the machine told her that she would tell me that making change on her own is just too much effort.

Making change does require effort. Now, I am not talking about change in my pocket. I am talking about change in myself or change in the world. Change requires a great deal of effort. How much effort am I willing to exert to make change? What need for change empassions me enough to be willing to exert the effort? And how long would I really be willing to keep working for it?

We recently re-watched the movie "Amazing Grace" which chronicles the efforts of William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade in England. Wilberforce worked for more than twenty years until the slave trade was abolished in England (chronicled in the movie) and another 26 years until all British slaves were set free, that being just a few days before his death. An article at states:  "On Sunday 28 October 1787 Wilberforce wrote in his diary: 'God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the Reformation of society.' "  This statement by Wilberforce was also quoted in the movie. He spent his whole life making change, not only regarding the slave trade, but in many other areas. His faith was both the catalyst and the fuel that kept his efforts continuous against all opposition until change was made.

Like making change from a purchase, the art of making change in society is becoming a lost art. Few are truly willing to persist in the face of opposition and long battles. Few are willing to sacrifice their own comfort and energy in order to effect "the reformation of society."

I am challenged and convicted as I think about the change needed in our world and the efforts of William Wilberforce over two hundred years ago. The need for reformation in our society is just as great. Am I willing to exert the effort to "make change"?