Just over half way through the The Life of Galileo, The Little Monk says to Galileo: “What would
people say if I told them that they happen to be on a small knob of stone twisting endlessly
through the void round a second-rate star, just one among myriads? What would be the value or
necessity then of so much patience, such understanding of their own poverty?” What this quote
illustrates, is the inextricable link between identity and tradition and culture - or what we could
otherwise refer to as ‘the way things have always been done around here.’ We think a certain way
about things and we have a certain way of going about our business - whether it’s what time we
like to go to work, or what we choose to believe about what happens to us after we die: these
thought and behaviour patterns become fundamental to our sense of who we are because they are
the basis for our goals and objectives in life. And how are we to react, as The Little Monk points
out, if someone suddenly challenges ideas and ways that are core to our being and have been so
since as long as we can remember?
The Life of Galileo is not an anti-church or pro science play. It’s a play about change - why it
happens, how it’s managed and received, and what the implications of it can be. Without change
there would be no conflict. Theoretically we could live in a world of total acceptance - where we
assented to every idea and manner of action and had no dispute with any one. Conflict only occurs
when an individual or group no longer agrees with the ideas or operations of others. They want to
change something. So conflict is inevitable because we must always change.
Yet, not all change results in conflict. There are many areas of our life which are adapted to change
or motivated by change. Some of us love updating our computer or phone - to have the most
advanced gadget. But some of us don’t like this - we are used to how our ‘old’ technology: we
know how it works - and because of this...