Seeds of Change
I was privileged to participate in the great humanizing movements of the last century, but I can’t recall a time when the issues were so basic, so interconnected.
How are we going to make our livings in a society becoming increasingly jobless because of hi-tech and outsourcing? Where will we get the imagination to recognize that for most of human history the concept of Jobs didn’t even exist? Work, as distinguished from Labor, was done to produce needed goods and services, develop skills and artistry, and nurture cooperation.
How do we rebuild cities like Detroit that were once the arsenal of democracy into models of 21st century self-reliance and sustainability?
How do we redefine education so that 30-50 percent of inner-city children do not drop out of school, thus ensuring that millions will end up in prison?
What will move us to care for our biosphere instead of using our technological mastery to increase the speed at which we are making it uninhabitable?
Can we build an America in which people of all races and ethnicities live together in harmony, and Euro-Americans, in particular, celebrate their role as one among many minorities constituting the multiethnic majority?
And, especially since 9/11, how do we achieve reconciliation with the two-thirds of the world that increasingly resents our economic, military, and cultural domination?
These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.
We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously.
Actions like these seem insignificant because we judge progress in terms of quantity. But, as the decline of GM suggests, the time has come to rethink the way we think. In the words of organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley (Leadership and Modern Science):
“From a Newtonian perspective, our efforts often seem too small, and we doubt that our actions will contribute incrementally to large-scale change. But a quantum view explains the success of small efforts quite differently.
Acting locally allows us to be inside the movement and flow of the system, Changes in small places affect the global system, not through incrementalism, but because every small system participates in an unbroken wholeness. We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.”