I hear people contemplate change on a large scale often. Change in American foreign policy, domestic policy, environmental policy, etc. There are many ways we are supposed to be able to do this, like writing to your elected representatives (including the President), staging nonviolent protests, writing letters to the local paper, and forming organizations to represent the people to those in power. There is also the preferred way (at least among Americans it seems) of donating money to an organization that you support.
These all seem so ineffective. But that’s because, proportionally, only a handful of people participate in these activities in any passionate way. And those who do are usually on one extreme end of the spectrum or another, so reasonable options are not often heard.
Why do people seem to be so marginally involved in their government (you know, the one that’s supposed to be “by the people, for the people”)? I think that we are all too complacent and we’ve placed too much power over our lives on the continued well-being of the machine. Really, there’s never been a more appropriate time for Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine”. We’ve all bought in to the consumer culture. We’ve all bought in to capitalism. We’ve all put all our hopes for our future into a system which is quickly showing its incapability of dealing with modern problems and continuing to improve the world.
We all have jobs – or if we don’t we’re looking for one. And many of us are looking for “better” (more highly paid or more fulfilling, etc.) jobs to take us closer to where we want to be. We want to drive nice cars, own a nice house, and be able to attend events if we find them interesting. We want to be able to go on a vacation – whether to a small town not too far away, or to the other end of the Earth. We want these things because we spend much of our life serving our managers, our CEO’s and their Board of Directors. While we do this we earn money and can’t wait to use it for fun.
So we burn more fossil fuels to visit the nearest chain store to acquire the newest thing that was made by raping the planet in oh so many ways. So we feed our hard earned money (and the time we spent making it) back into the machine and serve the people in power even more. And we keep believing that at some point we’ll have enough stuff and we’ll learn to recycle everything and clean out the air and the water, and we’ll be able to teach all the other countries the way to be prosperous, happy, and conscientious at the same time. No one will be hungry, in need of unaffordable medical care, drinking unsanitary water, or living in a home owned by another person. Can someone tell me when the mirage will fade?
The truth is, we need to realize that in order to effect change we need to make sacrifices. And they may be huge. And unpleasant. But they may be worthwhile in the end. We may need to start opting out of the culture, system, machine, etc. We need to learn to embrace passion again – and not only with all our clothes off. We need to passionately want change in a way that a sacrifice of any sort is a small request compared to the benefit of the change. Maybe we can opt out of things one at a time – like not buying things that come over packaged. Why buy the packing if you will only throw it away? We’re paying for the cardboard boxes in which things are packed as well as the product inside. What else can we opt out of that can help create change? I’m not sure, but I’m sure we’ve all got our own ideas. We just need to listen to our passions and follow them wholeheartedly to effect change.
Without that, we’re all just spineless whiners.