Change can be scary.
The older I get, the more this becomes true. I’m comfortable doing it the old way. I’m a firm believer in, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But there are times when change must occur. The recent happenings with the Ozark Writers League in Branson, Missouri is a prime example of this. In case you haven’t heard, after 30 years of meeting every quarter at the College of the Ozarks, OWL (Ozark Writers League) got kicked off campus. Two weeks before our meeting for February.
The campus at the College of the Ozarks is beautiful. A large pond complete with fountains and swans meet visitors as they come through the gate. A peaceful atmosphere settles over you as you drive the quiet streets. College of the Ozarks is a private-funded, Christian-base school.
Just what does Christian-based mean? I suppose everyone who attends must believe in God and Jesus Christ, or at least say they do. Perhaps the students are required to worship every day especially on Sundays. Does doing homework on Sundays qualify as working on the Lord’s Day? I have no idea. However, I do know that we Christians hang tight to the Golden Rule: do unto others, as we would have them do unto us. Kicking OWL off campus, with no notice, two weeks before our meeting? Hmm . . . doesn’t really satisfy that rule, now does it?
From what I’ve heard, the College objected strongly to the topics and speakers who were showing up for the OWL meeting. One speaker was speaking on sex in writing. Evidently, “sex” is a big no-no to this Christian-based school. Despite attempts by the OWL president to assure the College that we were not going to have a screaming, wild orgy in the auditorium or fornicate on classroom desks while throwing obscenities into the air, and that we would revise the name of the topic and work with the College in anyway to fix this misunderstanding, the speakers as well as the organization were banned forever from campus.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Being a privately funded school, The College of the Ozarks had the right to ban us. Period. It was the reasoning and the way they went about it that was wrong. OWL members are not unruly heathens who sacrifice virgins to Almighty God Ra. We are God-fearin’ folk with an average age well over 21. Well, well over 21. We know how to behave. We take our writing seriously.
Here’s the deal, being kicked off campus was a blessing in disguise. Change must occur in order to advance and improve. Speaking from my own experience, if a change is extremely important in the grand scheme of things, and we don’t do it ourselves, Universe will step in. In my opinion, this is exactly what happened.
Sorry. But . . .
OWL was stagnant. Going no where. Speakers spoke on the same ol’ things. If I had to listen to one more talk on social media, I was going to explode. Or fall a sleep in my chair. Which, by the way, many members have done. None of this is the fault of the President and the Board. Being a former member of the board, we tried hard to breathe new life and bring younger blood into the mix. But for some reason, it never happened.
Perhaps the building, the campus, the mind-set of the College was so oppressive, so judgmental, so restrictive, we never stood a chance. OWL just couldn’t see this outside force. But Universe did. (you can’t fool Mother Nature, nor fool with Her either.) So we got kicked out. But Universe doesn’t throw you under the bus. OWL got a new venue within days. A bigger, better, more modern venue.
OWL got a transfusion. Old blood gone. New blood in.
Some will not embrace this change. It’s scary. Stretches their comfort-zone too far. Nothing wrong with that. So be it.
But others will. A lot of others.
The challenge of a new frontier awaits us. We will charge ahead and bravely go where no OWL has ever gone before.
James T. Kirk and Spock would be so proud.