Like anybody, I go through periods where I’m extremely frustrated and pessimistic. These tend to be the times that we take pen to paper (or keyboard to, ummm, facebook), needing to vent that frustration. But what about the other times? I also have periods of strong optimism, during which I look quite highly on humanity. I realize that, while we are certainly not without our issues, most people are good people. Every individual, including the rich and powerful, wants peace in their own lives and those of the people they love. Many of us are intelligent and compassionate. We’ve used those qualities to create an amazing world where we can cure our illnesses, stay connected with each other, conquer space and time, take care of those less fortunate then ourselves, and be free to pursue our dreams. I can’t thank my parents enough for creating me when they did, because it’s an exciting time to be alive, and I see amazing changes coming in the near future, thanks to our ongoing efforts today.
We live in an “instant gratification” world. Increasingly, we expect to get what we want when we want it. This tendency can result in great dissatisfaction when it comes to the subject of social change. We’re so absorbed in our daily lives that it becomes more and more difficult to think ahead, or to examine the past, over any significant period of time. Blinded by our own need for immediacy, it can seem that nothing we do makes a difference, but as NOAM CHOMSKY, the worlds most recognized intellectual, repeatedly points out, we ARE making efforts towards a better world, and not only are we succeeding, but we’re doing it very quickly.
It was in 1975 that women were, for the first time, in America, awarded THE SAME RIGHTS AS MEN. That’s only 40 years ago, to date. I have friends that were alive then! Look at how far we’ve come in just half a generation. Women are now CEOs, and politicians. There’s still plenty of ground to cover, especially on the social level, but the point is that 40 years is an extremely short amount of time, in human existence, and we’re moving towards real equality at a rapid pace. It was in 1970 that a young MICHAEL MOORE blew the whistle on the Flint, Michigan Elks Lodge for being “Caucasians only”. He led a campaign that successfully forced the club to change their racist policy. Can you imagine that your Dad lived through a time where non-white people were prohibited from using the local golf course? Comedian, LOUIS CK, points out that time travel is only an appealing idea to white folks. If you’re black, your attitude would be “nothing before 1980. I don’t wanna go”. BILL MAHER adds that the past really “wasn’t that good if you were Mexican, … or Jewish, or disabled, or gay, or a woman”. To that list, I’d like to include mentally ill. Not more then a few decades ago, if you suffered from depression or anxiety, there was no medication for you, and no public understanding of your challenges. You were essentially faced with a life time in a mental institution, if not jail! And how about kids? A generation ago, it sucked to be a kid, and you spent your childhood just wanting to grow up as fast as possible. Look, I’m in no way saying that the world is perfect, and we should just sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labour. There’s SO MUCH more ground to cover. What I’m saying is that humanity is making immense progress, very quickly, but we have a hard time seeing it, because we rarely look beyond today. Change is not going to happen over night. In fact, it really takes a generational shift.
As recently as the 90s, if you had told comedian, CHRIS ROCK, that his future children would grow up never knowing what it felt like to be the victim of racism, he would have called you ridiculous (although he probably would have used stronger words). Today, he admits that his daughters “are going to be the first black children in the history of America to actually have the benefit of the doubt of just being moral, intelligent people”. In a recent INTERVIEW WITH FRANK RICH, Rock explained, “Grown people, people over 30, they’re not changing. But you’ve got kids growing up”. I’ll elaborate on this. By the time you’re average person reaches age 30, they are quite set in their ways, particularly at the core of their moral and ethical beliefs. Any future behavioural changes that person makes will likely only be embraced if the changes satisfy those core beliefs, making change quite challenging. However, what a person is persuaded to believe in, before that pivotal age of around 30, gets handed down to their children, who then carry those beliefs naturally. It is through our children that paradigm shifts in global consciousness occur, by naturalizing belief systems into their daily lives, thus enabling social movements to carry forward with considerable more ease, where they would have struggled before. Rock continues “you got to remember, the women’s movement and the civil-rights movement, even getting rid of Prohibition — it all loosened up the country for the gay-rights movement. Anybody that’s old enough realizes none of these movements has ever been stopped”. I’d like to add to the list of shifts in global awareness, the most recent one, that being environmental issues.
30 years ago, people didn’t recycle. Today, as far as the Western world is concerned, everybody does it. The practice of separating waste into reusable and otherwise has become common place. Even in New York, where environmental issues rank quite low on the publics concern, there is an extensive recycling program available to every home. Cities compete with each other to be the “greenest”, because recycling has become synonymous with living a better life. Now, the actual effects of recycling, on nature, are quite minimal. It’s not going to “save the planet”, by any means, but there is something more important being demonstrated here. This shows that, within a generation, people can be taught to be more conscious of their surroundings, simply by integrating the idea into their everyday lives, from birth. There’s more evidence of this, and it lies in the realm where policies are truly formed.
“The walls and silos that separate funders, grantees,
governments, multilaterals, activists, and others are
falling away as each change agent instead focuses on
bringing its unique skills and resources to bear on today’s
most difficult social challenges.” – Shaping The Future, Committee Encouraging
The previous generation gave corporations a bad rap. “Corporate” and “caring” are not words commonly associated with each other, but that might be changing. Young executives are in high demand, and many of them, when being recruited as leaders of large companies, are insisting that those companies be involved in humanitarian efforts. You might find this hard to believe. Most of us have been taught to hate corporations. We see them as soulless, freedom devouring entities, and there certainly is truth to that, but do remember that there are human beings at the helm. The future CEOs of the world are members of this generation that have been taught to care about protecting nature, and have a greater connection with humanity, as a whole, growing up in a time where technology has knocked down borders and barriers between people, that inhibited every generation before. And it’s all apparent in the onflux of advertisements you’ll see on Youtube. Instead of showing off a product and telling us how great it is, our most recognizable brands are documenting projects aimed at improving peoples lives through charitable acts. Multi-national Companies are partnering with local activists to make a difference in communities. Don’t get confused. A corporation’s only interest is making money. But this community involvement trend points to a major change in consumerism. MORALITY HAS BECOME PROFITABLE.
If you’re having a hard time ingesting what you’re reading here, perhaps it’s because you’ve been watching too much news. I remember, back in highschool (I’m dating myself, but it was the 90s) reading a statistic that people who watch the news believe the world is far more dangerous then it actually is. If it was true then, it’s most certainly true now. News networks and websites have become so popular, over the years. A lot of people have them on all the time, in their work places and even in their homes. They are constantly bombarded with reports on violence, dangers, disasters, thefts and injustices. These are the general subject matters that make for news worthy stories. “GOOD NEWS IS NO NEWS”. I’m sure you’ve heard that expression before. But lets think, for a moment, about why that is. Good news isn’t news because good news it’s what’s happening in most places most of the time.
Right this very moment, in most parts of the world, people are caring for their families and loved ones. They are contributing to their communities through their jobs, or their purchases, or through charitable acts. Otherwise, they are enjoying a recreational activity, or relaxing in the comfort of their homes, or perhaps reading an uplifting article on deadkidsgetlively.com. In the western world, we are very quick to find fault with capitalism and democracy, but perhaps, considering that we are, for the most part, caring and intelligent individuals, we are doing the best we can, and this is the best system we’ve managed to come up with. Is it perfect? Of course not. Humans aren’t perfect, so why would it be? We do have a nice balance going here, though. You can draw parallels between wage labour and slavery, but you can just as easily view it as freedom. In this society, as long as you follow a few simple rules (don’t kill, don’t steal, pay your taxes) you are otherwise free to go and do as you please. If factors, outside of your control, inhibit your freedoms, you are still taken care of by those more fortunate. And what about the many who live outside of the democratic realm? Well, even in the most war torn, or oppressed parts of the world, most people, most of the time, are caring for their families and loved ones. They are contributing to their communities through their jobs, or their purchases, or through charitable acts. Otherwise, they are enjoying a recreational activity, or relaxing.
The GOOD NEWS is that the world isn’t such a bad place after all, and it’s only getting better. Day by day, little by little, we are making this world a more amazing place to live and love.
Here’s HOWARD ZINN, the world’s most renowned radical historian, to sum it all up.
“Every tiny act that we engage in, and those of us who have been in social movements know this: you do little things, and you think ‘It doesn’t mean anything. Where’s it going to go? Who’s going to listen?’ You do little things, and they don’t seem to be working, and then more people do little things, and the little things multiply. And at a certain point in history, millions of little, tiny, apparently inconsequential acts multiply. We saw this in the civil rights movement. We saw this in the antiwar movement and the women’s movement, in the gay and lesbian movement, in the disabled persons movement. At a certain point all these little acts multiply and something changes. We should keep that in mind. Every little act that we engage in contributes to this world phenomenon.”
JOE STRUMMER & THE MESCALEROS – REDEMPTION SONG
To celebrate the good news, here’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. JOE STRUMMER covering BOB MARLEY. Both of these people believed so strongly in changing the world. I think they would smile if they could see how far we’ve come.
GET MORE JOE STRUMMER
We don’t inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
Thank you for reading.