Friday, January 8, 2010

Vision, Dissonance, Determination

I was arguing with a friend who insisted that outrage was necessary for social change. I don't think that's always true. I would like to claim, like the Buddhists that I am reading, that my motivation to change things is simply compassion. Unfortunately I'm not sure that would be entirely true either.

When I look at why I am so insistent a believer in the need for social change, while I do think that compassion is in the mix, and may have even been the instigating factor, what keeps me going is a combination of vision, dissonance, and determination.

I talked at the beginning of this blog about analysis, vision, and strategy. (See my post on Creating Social Change, 7/2/08.) In a way, this is the same bit on vision--except that this is visceral. This is no longer intellectual--it's personal. I can almost see a different society. I know a little of what it would look like, a little of what it would sound like, I can almost tell you what it would taste like. It lurks constantly in my peripheral vision. I know that another world is possible. I just don't know how to get there.

This creates dissonance. When I look around at the world that I live in, it is so far from what I can see, how I believe we should be living, where I want to be and where I want the world to be, that it almost hurts. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way; it's true of many of the writers that I read and often quote: Starhawk, Joanna Macy, Francis Moore Lappé, Richard Heinberg, Fritjof Capra, Arundhati Roy, and lots of the utopian authors I've talked about. (See 'Annotated Utopia' post of 7/14/08.) I could throw in a lot of other, now departed, folks: Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, Gandhi, and on back to at least the Diggers of seventeenth century England, and probably long before that. Not everyone had the same vision, but there is a lot in common and some of that is the realization of the chasm between what is and what could be. I just read a column by George Monbiot where he declared that the talks in Copenhagen weren't only about climate change, they were about redefining ourselves, about the question of whether we create another world or whether we continue on the road we are traveling. He sees it as a "global battle between expanders and restrainers". I see it as a fight for the future. I see it as dissonance between what we have and how things could be.

And that dissonance leads me to determination. The only way things are going to change is to do something. These posts are one attempt to do something. Building community is another attempt--a try at gathering likeminded people in the hope that together we can accomplish more than any of us can separately. I go to meetings and demonstrations and try to figure out how to support people who are pushing for social change. It may not be much, but as Gandhi said, "Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it." So I do. I keep focusing every day on wanting to make a difference in the world. I see how things could be, I see how things are, and I keep looking for ways to push things a little further toward where I believe they must go.

It's not that it's a nice idea. It's that I feel compelled. It is what my life is really about.

Another world is possible. I know it.

Quote of the Day: "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, if you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing." - Arundhati Roy


Austan said...

It's everything. For some, outrage is the way. For others, education. For others, compassion. Just as there's no one way to The Big Good, there's no one way to change we hope for and need. Just keep doing what you do. I'll do what I do. We'll get there.

MoonRaven said...

And you are a wonderful example of someone who spreads love and good energy into the world. Yes--we'll each keep on doing our best--and with the help of many others, of many motivations, we will get there.

Thanks for your comment and your support.

rockpicker said...

Somewhere on Project Camelot recently I heard repeated, "Ignorance hurts you, awareness protects you."

Concerning Copenhagen: who is Maurice Strong, and why is Edmund de Rothschilde interested in the global warming debate?

Jerry said...

I admire the effort that you make, the fact that I know you are out doing things and trying to facilitate change. Hopefully, I can emulate that myself as I spend far too little time out trying to be active in the communities I am a part of.

MoonRaven said...

Well, I admire the work that you do. You are running a farm and trying to practice what you believe in--I do a bit here and there as I have time and can see something that needs doing, but I wish I had the constant efforts you make daily to live sustainably. I know that when you get a chance you will bring that further out to the world--but you definitely have something to offer the world. I'm glad that you find time to blog about it, and doubly glad when you find time to come here and comment on my stuff.

I wish you much support in your work.