Whether or not people identify their political alignment as left, right, centre or neither, there has been a growing trend for shared non-wing and non-partisan social action in response to problems arising in contemporary society. That is, issues such as Peak Oil, climate change, globalization, internet censorship and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/2009 (“GFC”) are encouraging more grass roots participation in politics, and this appears to be separated from traditional affiliations, such as major political parties or assumed ideologies. Although participants may disagree on the specifics on any given solution, it seems to me, that for the most part, people are beginning to agree that there is at least one potentially cataclysmic problem, and desire to do something about this.
The advent of the internet, social media and social networking technology, as well as the activities of whistleblowers through sites like Wikileaks, appears to be catalysts for this change. However, I think it is inaccurate to credit particular websites, such as Facebook or Twitter, for the unprecedented revolutions of the Arab Spring, and the global protests against corporate greed and socioeconomic inequality (“Occupy” movement) beginning respectively in late 2010 and from 2011. What we have here are a suite of tools at the disposal of an increasingly urbanized humanity, which has been used to connect and empathise with others on the opposite side of the globe. This is a tool, one of many, for disseminating alternative sources of information, and organizing and sharing in the status of current political activities. It did not create the need for the protests and revolutions; it is the problems of our social, economic and political structures which have done so; and people, who have continuously been marginalized and oppressed by these structures, have used the tools to the advantage of the causes being raised through protest movements and revolutions. As always, it continues to be the capacity for humans to think about the world and relationships with it, and our desire to interact with this in meaningful ways, and our courage in the face of oppression, which motivates us to be involved in social change activities. We are active, because we know we must be, and we change the world, because we are active within it.
With literally all of North Africa, most of the Middle East, and thousands of cities in all continents of the globe currently either dealing with a revolution or in the beginnings of one, it is not difficult to imagine that we are at a major turning point in human history. The level of protest, and similarities in the questions being asked; the tools being used to organize, and the overall shared sentiment about our current state of affairs, is unprecedented. This has literally never happened before; not to this level of activity, or to this level of generality and shared sentiment or timing. What happens next is therefore, quite frankly, anyone’s guess. However, we can use what we know to think about the possibilities, and in doing so, think about new ways of organizing ourselves as human beings that address our concerns in light of the looming dystopian problems and our growing shared consciousness. We can think about why people protest and why things like Peak Oil, Climate Change, the GFC, etc, etc, have been happening in the first place. We can think about why other alternatives proposed have not worked in the past (for example, state socialism, fascism, feudalism etc) and what lessons we can learn from our current and historical situations. We can think about what we need and therefore what we need to do. We can use our technology to access the vast knowledge generated by the sciences to understand these particular questions, and put in our own perspectives about what we personally need as individuals and as individuals in smaller, localized networks as well as larger, global networks.
If there was ever a time when we needed this conversation the most, and ever a time that this conversation was most possible to be had, it is now. Let us begin this journey with the end in mind; begin this journey as we would like to end it – on equal footing through equal participation.
This is a time of amazing possibilities. We are at a threshold that can go in any direction. We could drive ourselves extinct, killing ourselves over oil and a lack of food and land. We could become more and more totalitarian and authoritarian, and want to protest even more, but feel completely powerless to change our world, and in short, go back to same ol’ same ol’ and die anyway. We could also find a new way, something beyond our current dualistic thinking (e.g. socialism versus capitalism, utopia versus dystopia), that is based on reality, based on mutual respect, does it’s very best to fulfill all our needs, and addresses the problems we currently face.
There are proposed solutions around, whether these work or not depend on the facts, and the implementation of the solution (“the devil is in the details”). All solutions, regardless of “traditional political affiliations” need to be put on the table and discussed. All solutions need to consider the possibility that “shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic” is not enough. Reform has not worked, a revolution is required, and that is what is currently happening. So, at this point, I invite you, my fellow human being, to think about what needs to be done next, and provide your two cents worth. All members of my species, the human family, regardless of your background, are actively encouraged to think deeply, to consider others and let your imagination flourish as at this moment on. I actively encourage you to share and develop your perspective from this moment on. I actively encourage you to respectfully and rationally critique my perspective and those of yourself and others, from this moment on. I actively encourage you to actively encourage every person you encounter from now on, to do the same.
Open your heart, open your mind, and share both with us; together, we will come out of this alive, and be better off for it. I officially declare an open Challenge against Duelism – against false dichotomies, against needless division and war, and the idea that there is only one (or at most two) ways of doing things. Everyone is deeply impacted by what happens, therefore, everyone is invited to participate in developing and deciding what ought to happen next.
Dissent, humanity and the willingness to grow is a prerequisite; a formal education is not. A desire to come out of this alive with as many lives in tact, and as many of the problems we face as addressed as possible is a prerequisite; having all the answers is not. Learning, thinking, being your self and growing, are prerequisites; fitting in and assuming the status quo is not. I anticipate that mistakes will be made; fallacies of reason, fears of judgment real or fictional, and that what we don’t know is just as important as what we do. I also make no apologies for my passion, nor do I apologise for my occasionally blunt and ascorbic manner of speaking. I hope to grow from that as a person, and I recognize that I am imperfect, just as you are, but together we have seeds of truth that will germinate, and that this is the beginning, not the end. I trust that you will have this same respect for yourself and others, so that we may germinate all our seeds and renew the earth. I believe we are capable of change; for this is a universal constant, and we can grab change by both hands together, and make decisions that are beneficial, or at least do no harm, to our Earth and all us people living here.
I look forward to what you have to say.
NEXT: Blog Intentions