A Cry for Change in a Seemingly Inalterable World

If you scroll through my blog or wander over to my About page, you’ll find I have an affinity with controversial topics. Some of my favorite post have revolved around religion, equal marriage and feminism.  I’ve been told I’m going to hell at least once since I started writing here, so I assume I hit a nerve sometimes.  More than once, the purpose behind discussing these topics has been questioned. What are we doing here, discussing how society views Divinity, sexuality and gender? We’re not going to change the world. In fact, I have had people tell me that such discussions are pointless. They serve no purpose because they won’t result in any meaningful change.

I may have an idealistic view of the world, but I’m not blind. Changing the world in any way, better or worse, is difficult. Plenty of people stand against the world I would call perfect. Not everyone’s mind can be changed. Yet, do we need to change everyone’s mind to change the world? What do we even mean when we say ‘change the world’?

Think about that for just a second. I’m willing to bet that, when most people consider the possibility of world change, they imagine change that happens within their lifetime.  Nathanael Lark created a beautiful comic strip depicting what this looks like. Within 12 frames, he tells the story of world change. In the beginning, a large group of people are acting hostile and one person reacts with love. They respond with more hate, but the one lone lover is not deterred. He only responds the same way he did before, with love. By the fifth frame, one person in the group of haters considers love. They throw him out of the group.

Now, at the seventh frame, two people are responding to hate with love. In the ninth, all but one are expressing love. After some consideration, the last stubborn hater considers love and is welcomed by the group of lovers in the twelfth frame.

That is exactly how I see world change. It happens by loving our neighbors, respecting each other’s opinions and building a world of understanding. It’s true that my thinking is idealistic, but I also think it’s practical. You see, I don’t expect the world to change in my lifetime. In fact, I highly doubt there is even a possibility. When I look at Lark’s comic, I don’t just see twelve frames; I see twelve generations.

I will hold on to my conviction that the world can and will change. No amount of pessimism or tragic world events will move me. When we raise and educate children, we change the world. When we discuss religion, politics and society with an open and respectful mind, we change the world. When we get another person to understand our point of view, even if it doesn’t change their mind, we change the world.

This photo, “change the world” is copyright (c) 2014 emerald_sa and made available under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

A changed world is not one in which everyone is the same, believes in the same principles or agrees. The world, perfected, will still have crime, hate and death. The plagues of society will always be present, but they can be changed and managed. All the problems of our world, if they can’t be eradicated, can be reduced. Humankind can evolve its thoughts and actions into something more beautiful and beneficial to the world.

Maybe that’s too long to wait for some people. If they can’t see the world become better in their life time, then what’s the point of trying? There is some logic in that, but I find it to be a rather selfish way of looking at the world. So the next handful of generations may not see a world that is much improved from what we have today. What about our great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren? When they open their history books, don’t you want them to see that we tried?

Susan B. Anthony passed away in 1906, before women were granted the right to vote (1920), before it was legal for married couples in every state to used contraceptives (1965), before marital rape was outlawed (1976, Nebraska) and before sexual harassment in the workplace was mad illegal (1986). Were her actions pointless because she didn’t get to enjoy their benefit?

How many people who we revere for standing up against the evils of society actually got to enjoy the fruit of their work while on earth. Did Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi? Was their time on this earth worthless because they never got to enjoy the better world they helped create?

Striving for world change serves a purpose. Just because society evolves at a slower pace than we would prefer does not mean it is immutable. The next time you find yourself despairing, worried about the ability of your actions to serve a purpose, remember that the world can, has and will continue to change. What will you contribute to it’s evolution?


30 thoughts on “A Cry for Change in a Seemingly Inalterable World”

  1. Great article! I especially like the point about Susan B. Anthony. One of my favorite quotes comes from my old social entrepreneurship professor who said, “It’s really hard to change the world. But if you focus on one person and work really hard, you can make a difference in their life. For that one person, you’ve changed their whole world.”

    1. I’ve always thought that way as well. We may not be able to change the world as a whole, but if you can forever change the world for one person. That impact isn’t worthless. In fact, those small impacts may be the best way to change anything.

  2. I’ve seen some amazing changes in my lifetime. My parents did, too. Much of that change was in non-personal stuff like transportation and communication technology. The change you talk of is very deeply imbedded in our human nature. Change their can be imperceptible. It’s like trying to turn a large moving barge. Nothing happens quickly.

    And, some things we thought were changed for good get forced back the other way by groups who get into a powerful position. Look at voting rights, womens’ health issues, election financing.

    Let’s hope the net result over time will be positive. Patience and keep pushing on the barges.

    1. I think we have to always be pushing. Like that barge, if we stop pushing, the currant may take it back to where it was. Even when we reach a point we are happy with, we have to keep working to make sure it stays there. So long as there are people who try to bring the barge back, the rest of us must continue pushing forward.

  3. Want to change the world. start with ourselves.
    Living the way we think is the right way.
    And that is where all those world changers fail(governments included) they stop living the life they envision is life changing.
    Want to change the world, start with yourself. 😀 and stand by your beliefs
    Keep on smiling. interesting subject.

    1. Yes, yes, very true. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” as they say. I really think change does start there. What change can we cause if we don’t act the way we’d hope all would act toward one another/

    1. “Gaia will have another Golden Age.”

      I love the way that sounds. Hopefully we can all work toward that. The Golden Age of Gaia does not have to come with us… it could come after us. We have to work if we want to be a part of that positive future.

    1. Yes, yes, writing about it. But, I do hope there is some action as well. Having a discussion that causes people to think a little different about a subject is action enough. Small actions can create a big impact.

  4. It’s Goethe’s spiral, although we seems to be in cycles between highs (culture, peace, etcetera) and downs (war, famine, selfishness) actually it’s an spiral, everytime we are better, our wars aren’t so cruel and we are more tolerant.
    Said that a world of pure love would be as bad as a world of pure hate because in the name of love people can do horrible things too.

    1. This is true. The way I see it, a world perfected would not be free of all problems. There would still be hunger, crime and death. The difference would be that the people and countries of the world would be better at addressing those issues in a healthy way.

  5. Talking, listening, writing, reading, and discussing do change the world — my world, your world, and the world of those around us. The current feminist movement started because women talked and listened to each other. Problems become visible because we talk about them. Solutions become possible because we imagine them out loud. Keep it up!

  6. I’ve seen the world change first hand. I’ve watch political parties dig holes so deep you wonder why a rich guy was carry his own shovel in the first place. I’ve done so much reading on various religions that I’m convinced it’s all one giant game of telephone where the names get changed based on the region the story ends up in. I’ve lived through the Girl Power of The Spice Girls, and the sadness that is now the government trying to take our reproductive rights from us. The only thing I’ve seen that really makes a difference is voting. It’s just crazy how our parent’s generation didn’t care about voting at all. Look at all the people in power right now who are just destroying everything in their wake. It now falls on our shoulders to build a better world for the future generations and so far I’m proud to say, we’re kicking some ass. We will never live to see what we built come to flourishion but, hopefully the future will never again see an economy crash from uneducated people electing selfish people to govern our nation.

    1. I have the same hopes. We have to keep pushing. Once we have won, we still have to push because the other side will always be there trying to return things to the way they were.

      Voting is so very important and I can’t be convinced otherwise. Maybe we can get them to listen again. I look forward to the day where neither of the crappy choices I have are trying to take away my rights. Once we drop all these petty issues, maybe we can start to tackle the big problems.

      1. I used to think voting was important, not as much now. It matters more who counts the votes. after watching Bush lose to Kerry and becoming our court appointed President, then the electronic ballot fiasco in Ohio in Fla to put him in for a second term, I’m not so sure voting is as Democratic as we think, or it once was. And it’s getting worse! All politicians are sociopaths, if Obama didn’t teach me that no one can. 🙂

        1. I agree that it will take more than voting to create real change, but I still think it can create a huge impact, especially if we start at the local level. People like to complain about the president, but that person is hardly as important as local politicians who the got to state who then go to national. If we paid attention to local elections, maybe we’d have better choices on the national level.

  7. If you get Netflix you might be interested in the documentary, Future by Design. It’s a very intriguing idea, that we are far from, but fascinating non-the-less. It may be on YouTube or the website. It definitely sparks the imagination.

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