Sometimes it seems that we are powerless in the face of a giant corrupt system that seems to perpetuate itself..
But I think people have more power than they are led to believe. Truly, the system isn't a stagnant entity, but a living, breathing, and shifting one made up of a myriad of people, and groupings of people. The system isn't separate from us, but rather, we make up the system - we are the system. Thinking about it this way, we cannot alleviate ourselves from the responsibility of the dysfunction of that system, nor the call to change it.
Which means that those who are called to live a life of higher integrity, or strive towards an innovative ideal, must absolutely do so! If we are to see any change at all on the macrocosm of our own living system, it has to happen in the microcosm, in the smaller groupings of people, your community and of course, yourself. Any bit of hypocrisy in your own life, gives permission for hypocrisy in the larger system.
So, if we truly want change, we must be the disciplined warriors of a new paradigm.
As it stands, however, the current leading macro-paradigm is still based on the selfish grasping towards profit... Or so it seems anyway, based on the media and actions of certain big 'players'. I feel like I can argue that this perception may not actually reflect the majority of people necessarily and may perhaps only be perpetuated idealistically by media and by a much smaller percentage of the human race than we once thought.
I say this, because I can definitely see all around me the blossoming seeds of a more compassionate, and earth-based paradigm. Actually, a majority of the people I talk to want simply the freedom to pursue their passions, and a reasonable quality of life not dependent on the grind of a paycheck to paycheck minimum wage job misaligned to their dreams and talents.
Most of them want to share that wealth with their community, give back in some way or simply live off the map completely! No one I've talked to actually wants 20 luxury vehicles and or toilets made of gold...! And...that's a good sign. That means that the microcosmic level is reaching a paradigm that is beginning to no longer support the selfish top heavy paradigm of greed that we have been suffering through.
While things are catching up, however, we still have tremendous power. The big-players place profit at the highest priority, right? They are driven by it, slaves to it actually. What we perceive as their 'power' is actually equally their weakness. We think we are in the palm of their hands, but it's actually the opposite. As the demands of the people change, those big-players are forced to change as well if they want to keep making a profit.
To be blunt, the game sucks. However, while it's going on, we as people can use it to our advantage to shift the paradigm towards the world we want to see. What happens if people no longer want chemical-ridden food? What happens when people figure out that eating a cleaner diet and using herbs can relieve them of many of their diseases and symptoms? What happens when enough people only want biodegradable? What happens when enough people decide they only want cruelty-free products? What happens when the majority people are no longer amused by racism or senseless violence..? What happens when the majority of people would choose depth and authentic happiness over shallow gratification?
They stop buying. They stop watching. And the 'big' players stop making money. If what the majority of people want is healthier, cleaner and more compassionate products and lives, then that's what they will have to start producing. If they want to keep making money, they will have to conform to what the majority of people want - Until the game collapses completely, and the new paradigm takes root. Which means that we the people have a tremendous amount of power indeed and can completely shift the tides of the world.
But this can only happen through action. If we passively just go along with it, If we decide to keep living a cruel and non-sustainable lifestyle, either through apathy, ignorance, or laziness...the change we yearn to see in the world will be profoundly slowed - and everyone will be affected.
"Culture is not your friend," is the famous line Terence McKenna once spoke. And I say, culture is not your friend, when it is not a friendly culture! (And when it is a friendly culture, it is only your friend, nothing more, nothing less.) The change in the world will first come with a change of the culture, before the disintegration of the culture. That change of culture requires personal action. In terms of action, we can indeed 'vote with our dollar' and even further, 'vote' with our lifestyle, our person-hood.
And while it is true that change doesn't happen instantaneously, change can still happen very quickly. Some people in the past have said, what's the point? It will never change, or, I'll never see it in my lifetime. Well for one, anyone who really desires a better world should want to work towards that world, regardless if they'll be gratified in their lifetime...! But that put aside, there actually is a very good chance you CAN see it in your lifetime. Perhaps not in total perfection, but the possibility of seeing profound changes is very high, especially if people are taking the personal responsibility to reflect the change they wish to see.
If we go back to the idea of the system as a living creature, we know that in nature, living creatures evolve and adapt over time. Like any living thing, our system can evolve. Evolution need not take 1,000 years to occur, either. In fact, evolution can occur quite rapidly, especially in our day and age of instantaneous information sharing and widespread connectivity.
Social evolution, especially, has great potential for rapid evolution. I am reminded of the case of the Macaque monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima, 1953.
One young monkey decided that she didn't want big mouthfuls of dirt with her sweet potato, and began to wash the sweet potatoes in the sea first before eating. Innovation! Soon other young monkeys began doing the same, then the older generations of monkeys followed suit. Within a decade, every monkey on the island was washing their potatoes. Pause. Within a decade!
Even more fascinating was that monkeys on other separate islands began washing their potatoes too. (An interesting indication that hints at the possibility of a collective consciousness. This gave rise to what researchers call the Hundredth Monkey Effect - once a critical mass of monkeys had initiated the change, the change instantaneously spread across the islands, to monkeys that never even had contact with the initial group.
This is quite amazing, don't you think? Human beings and monkeys are close relatives for sure. If the monkeys could evolve their system within only 10 years, without any of the technology we have, imagine what we humans could do? It's an exciting thought. And, like the macaque monkey, I don't want mouthfuls of dirt with my potato - I don't want the mouthfuls of cruelty and destruction with my life, with my world!
So one may also say, okay that's great, but we're a little bit more complicated than monkeys, and our issues have much more dramatic implications. To respond to the latter, it's all the more reason to dedicate your life to living that change. And to the former, let me give a human example. Only a hundred years ago, your colored neighbor would have been a slave. Only 50's years ago, he would have had a separate drinking fountain. Today, he or she is a free man or woman. But there's still racism you say. Well, yes, what we have isn't perfect yet. But dare you look that man in the eye, the one that would have spent his life beaten by a slave master, or have been unable to go to school, or sit next to you on the bus - and say that that change doesn't hold weight because there is still racism. That change has made a profound difference for our colored brothers and sisters. And on some level, all the difference between two vastly different worlds. Imagine what we can do in the next 10 years? The next 50? The next 100?
Truly, there is no reason why we shouldn't be shifting our lives to reflect the change we long for. No excuse we can truly make for ourselves. For there is a good chance we will see the effects of that change in our lifetime, and those effects will ripple out to the future generations of our selves. Even in the darkest and most hopeless of times, we have always had a profound power within ourselves - the power to shift the tides of destiny. The power of our will to create positive change. The magnificent power to bring the dreams of the heart into reality. Now, we once again stand upon the precipice of a great shift. We have the choice to take the reigns of our own and collective destiny, or allow the world to fall into further decay and destruction. Which, in the end will be no ones fault but our own. The time has never been more ripe to create our world. To create ourselves. Ripples create waves.
So what will you choose? How will you create your life? What change will you inspire?
If it sounds epic that's because it truly is.
The destiny of the world is in your hands, my friend.
In all of our hands.
You're choices will shape the future. And you're gifts will change the world.
So, be you. Be what you believe in.
Be what you long for.
This world needs the gift that is you.
Artwork by Josephine Wall.