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Alvin Toffler on Embracing Change

Below are some of the most notable quotes by Alvin Toffler, one of the world’s outstanding futurists and author of the books Futureshock in 1970 and the Third Wave in 1980.

What is apparent about these quotes is how relevant they are to our world today. We are undergoing increasingly rapid change and denying the reality of it only makes it hit us all the harder. Instead we need to learn to accept this reality which requires us to unlearn and untether ourselves from the foundations of our Old World, which are already breaking beneath our feet, and learn a new way of stabilizing ourselves within a much more fluid New World.

Only then will we be able to embrace this change, going more gently with the flow of it, rather than against it, thus allowing us to transition into this future less harshly than if we persist in ignoring the apparent reality of it.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Nobody knows the future with certainty. We can, however, identify ongoing patterns of change.

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.

Change is not merely necessary to life – it is life.

A new civilization is emerging in our lives, and blind men everywhere are trying to suppress it.

The first rule of survival is clear: Nothing is more dangerous than yesterday’s success.

The responsibility for change…lies within us. We must begin with ourselves, teaching ourselves not to close our minds prematurely to the novel, the surprising, the seemingly radical.

Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilization from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave.

Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it…to channel our destiny in humane directions and to ease the trauma of transition.

Individuals need life structure. A life lacking in comprehensible structure is an aimless wreck. The absence of structure breeds breakdown. Structure provides the relatively fixed points of reference we need. That is why, for many people, a job is crucial psychologically, over and above the paycheck. By making clear demands on their time and energy, it provides an element of structure around which the rest of their lives can be organized. The absolute demands imposed on a parent by an infant, the responsibility to care for an invalid, the tight discipline demanded by membership in a church or, in some countries, a political party — all these may also impose a simple structure on life.

To survive, to avert what we have termed future shock, the individual must become infinitely more adaptable and capable than ever before. We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots – religion, nation, community, family, or profession – are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust.

The most important thing is to understand the general outlines of where we’re going.

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