…when a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, that the people, in general will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions which have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic.

James Baldwin

This segment is from a longer passage from James Baldwin which hit home today on my first day back in the office (figuratively as I was working remotely) and catching up on everything that has transpired while I’ve been on sabbatical.

I could sense the panic Baldwin describes immediately as I began to reconnect with colleagues and poke around. The world so many have known is changing — quickly and to some, it seems without warning. I’d say the signs were there for many years if you were willing to really look and ask the right questions. When the tower would begin to crack was the real question. Of course, any good psychologist will tell you, when you can’t control the situation, all you can do is control how you react to it.

Batten down the hatches. Fortify the main line. Don’t panic.