Over my last 20 years or so working in and around healthcare, I have frequently heard the question “why?” as it relates to the choices people make about their health. Much of the chronic disease present in our population is the result of choices we make in what we eat, how we do or don’t exercise, how we do or don’t access care, and how we are or aren’t compliant with the counsel we’re given on how to improve our health or manage our disease.
Why would anyone choose to keep doing something they know is hurting their health or possibly even killing them? Perhaps they don’t get it. Maybe they don’t understand the complexities and available options. It’s possible they don’t agree with the data or the studies or their physician. The end result is we often keep on keepin’ on with the same behaviors.
This happens in all areas of our lives. In business, we see the tendency to keep doing many of the same things or to play it safe with incremental changes when we know greater action is needed. In government, the gravitational pull of the status quo is nearly impossible to escape. In our relationships, we keep repeating destructive patterns knowing something has got to change.
Today is Palm Sunday. This is a big day for Christians as we enter Holy Week and celebrate Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, leading to his eventual crucifixion and resurrection. In his day, a group of people believed his teachings, his miracles, his claim to be the son of God, and his resurrection; they came to be known as Christians. Others did not believe.
Why would anyone believe or not believe? Was it the data? Was it his message? Was it his messianic complex? Was it his humility or lack thereof? Was it that they didn’t see it for themselves?
Some came to know him through relationship. Some came to know him through the proof of his miracles. Some came to know him through their religious beliefs and how this man’s words, timing, and actions fit into the hope of their faith. Some needed all of the above. Still, many remained unconvinced.
Across pretty much all aspects of our lives, when it comes to our decisions not to change, our typical reason is that the cost is too high. In some cases, the financial cost is literally too high but that is most likely a rationalization. We frequently line the numbers up to fit within the framework to support the decisions we want to make.
The real cost barrier is the personal cost of change. The effort, sacrifice, struggle, time, pain, or doubt; the physical and emotional costs associated with whatever I’m being asked to change are the real barriers. The ultimate “why” is that we don’t want to pay the price of change that is being asked of us.
If I come to believe that something is true, am I willing to pay the price to act upon it? One simple way to avoid such a decision is to avoid seeking the truth or, chosing to believe that there is no truth. Obfuscation of facts is a great place to hide and complexity is its greatest ally. There is lots of room to disappear within the massive universes we create to hide truths. Government. Healthcare. Geopolitics. Environment. Culture. All are big, wonderfully broad, open-horizoned, oceans with seemingly infinite depths to wander within.
However, if I seek the truth and find an answer, I am faced with a choice that will have a cost. Am I willing to see it, to accept it, and to face that choice? Faced with such a truth, am I willing to pay its price?
The glimpses come every day. Solutions to problems we have appear to us in so many forms. Sometimes they are problems we didn’t know could be solved. Sometimes they are problems we didn’t realize we had. Sometimes they are calls to change so foreign to our current way of thinking, seeing, and being, that we can barely comprehend the possibility of such a choice.
All great progress has a cost. All profound discoveries demand a price. You may look at the struggle, resistance, sacrifice, pain, and uncertainty of such a choice as not worth its potential consequences. Or, you may find the very thing necessary hidden within the cost itself. Either way, the choice is going to cost you. You just have to decide which one you’re going to pay.
Dad & I are on our way to Church. Your observations are so true and I will pray about this!