PHILIP'S BLOG: Social change isn't enough
BY PHILIP PATSTON
In the last week or so I've read blogs and articles on disability and employment, MPs playing "wheelchair dress-ups", homosexuality being legalised in India, a 9-year-old boy committing suicide due to homophobic bullying in school, the futility of substituting plastic cups with corn-starch cups...the list goes on.
It's not that I don't think these are not worthy of writing about – they are all important issues. But, man, I'm just getting so bored. These are things I've been reading, and writing about myself, for decades.
WHAT IS GOING ON??!!
For all the talk of social change we hear, I'm not seeing a lot of change. Well, no I am seeing to be fair, but the only change I'm seeing is the names (or, in worst case scenarios, the ages) of the people writing.
Change is change, the only constant, but when it comes to social issues, is change enough? Because change can be good, bad, better, worse – just different. And that's what I'm seeing a lot of at the moment – the same old issues being rehashed and repeated – just change, often for the sake of change.
I'm leaning further and further away from social change. I'm sick of the crowd-sourcing, petitions, Facebook pages etc. I want to be part of social improvement. I want people getting off their one-trick ponies and realising that all the issues I mentioned in the opening paragraph (and more) are connected and will never be solved singularly.
We will never achieve social improvement until we stop picking off little issues and ignoring the big trends – power, corruption, gross inequality, the ridiculous ways we stratify people based on money (not just the amounts but where the money comes from), our sickness system that we euphemistically call a health system.
We need to address our social culture of bullying, of greed, of ignorance, of egotism, of not caring about others. We need to know, as Naomi Klein wisely addresses, that climate decline (not change) is the result of social decline.
We need to sit up and realise that, according to Sir John Glubb (in Wheatley, Margaret J.. Who Do We Choose To Be?: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity (p. 34). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition) we are in the sixth and final age of civilisation, which he calls
the Age of Decadence:
Wealth and power have led to petty and negative behaviors, including narcissism, consumerism, materialism, nihilism, fanaticism, and high levels of frivolity. A celebrity culture worships athletes, actors, and singers. The masses are distracted by entertainment and sporting events, abandon moral restraint, shirk duties, and insist on entitlements. The leaders believe they are impervious and will govern forever. This age also develops the welfare state as imperial leaders generously build universities and hospitals, give grants to university students, support the young and the poor, and extend citizenship to everyone. When they run out of money, all this benevolence disappears and these institutions shut their doors. (ibid. p. 37)
I've been guilty of jumping on many a hobby horse, just shaking things up and moving things around in my little corner of the world. But lately I've been trying to stop just tinkering, looking at the bigger picture, and considering how I can do more than just create a bit of change, and instead being part of really improving things.
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