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Disruptive change...

Comment
Gordon Boyle
1 of 2

During my last visit home, my friend who I’ve known since school came to visit me. We decided to have a day of culture taking a guided tour of the local 12th century cathedral. This visit coincided with the launch of a new movie on the life of Mary Queen of Scots who was on the Scottish throne in the mid-sixteenth century.

This period of Scottish history was particularly challenging because of the dramatic change that was affecting Europe at the time. One of the key changes was the introduction of what became known as the Reformation. This was the establishment of new divisions of Western Christianity particularly in northern Europe. As part of this change Henry VIII initiated the separation of the Church of England from Rome and the Act of Supremacy recognised Henry as the supreme head of the Church of England.

Another key change was underway because of the introduction of the printing press. The arrival of mechanical moveable type printing introduced an era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of societies across the world and especially in Europe.

At the time Mary became Queen of Scotland Elizabeth I was Queen of England. Although related Mary was a Catholic whilst Elizabeth was a Protestant. In addition, Elizabeth had no children resulting in a succession issue for England. 

Another key change was underway because of the introduction of the printing press. The arrival of mechanical moveable type printing introduced an era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of societies across the world and especially in Europe.

At the time Mary became Queen of Scotland Elizabeth I was Queen of England. Although related Mary was a Catholic whilst Elizabeth was a Protestant. In addition, Elizabeth had no children resulting in a succession issue for England.

Through intermediaries both queens agreed that Mary would marry a Protestant Henry Stuart from Yorkshire and because of this marriage their son, James I, became the king of both Scotland and England in 1603. This not only unified both countries through one monarchy but also established the Protestant faith as the core faith in both countries.

Does any of this have a relevance to the world today? I think so, as we presently try to adapt to the impact on all societies due to the introduction of the Internet. Social media and all the accompanying baggage are changing us forever. Additionally, we are witnessing a decline in the need for mainstream religion for many people whilst at the same time a rise in the need for more radical and disruptive offshoots of some of the major established religions.

Changes of this magnitude witnessed in the mid sixteenth century were not without problems with many people killed and injured during the years of the change process. The introduction of the printing press created at the time the same issue of ‘Fake News’ we grapple with today. Powerful and influential voices manipulated the masses to win the hearts and minds of the people.

The phrase ‘What goes around comes around’ seems to me to apply to this story. Disruptive change is always difficult and there is no doubt in my mind we are experiencing extremely disruptive change presently that is positively and negatively affecting most of us on the planet.

I finish this piece saying that we need to all recognise that rejecting change and refusing to adapt to our new reality will only make the changes we are experiencing more difficult and more painful. Having an open and receptive mind will greatly assist everyone. Closed minds will only result in more problems, more division and ultimately drive us apart. I hope our political leaders, business leaders and key influencers are up to the challenges in place today.