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Things have to change... but guess what? The change is happening!

Updated on August 16, 2013

So – I think I can assume with a certain amount of surety that my readers will agree with me on the point that things are not as they should be in the world. There is war, famine, disease and oppression. Standards of living the world over are grossly unequal. That pernicious social sickness that is called apathy, is rife. These things are a given.

My intention today is not to harp on about the things that are wrong in the world today – but rather to bring some light to the darkening of the day. All is not ill. Cause for optimism exists. Hope glimmers tentatively from beneath the oppressive yoke of the image of despair that the media keeps trying to sell us.

This hope comes not in the form of revolution. It waves no political flag. No grass-roots movement for you to sign your name up to. So often, people cling to the wave of energy that is created by the passion of a political movement. I am writing to tell you today that a greater strength exists than the strength of a banner to stand behind. Where does this strength exist? I hear you cry. Tell us!

You need look no further than the mirror.

This is no trite “we can all do it if we pull together” plea. I am telling you that a difference is being made, and you are helping to make it.

You see, a new idea has occurred to the global consciousness of which you are a key part. This is a realisation of personal responsibility and individual power. In the past, so called social movements have focussed on raising public awareness through engagement with the political arena. Now while this is certainly important as a way of showing the powers that be that some people at least are paying attention, real positive change comes from somewhere different. It is this genesis of positivity that is finally gaining recognition.

History has shown conclusively that violent revolution leads either to disappointment or more violence. Fighting the political and corporate machine head on only validates its power (which in the end is only given by consent of the populace). What is happening now is much more powerful. Instead of railing and shouting about what is wrong about the priorities of the governments the world over, people are identifying the things they want to change, are discovering that they know ways of elleviating or eradicating social wrongs that they see around them and they are making the change happen THEMSELVES.

Years of research in the social sciences has shown that changing government policy about something by itself does not cause social change. If, alternatively, a clearly better alternative is physically demonstrated… if somebody says “Hey this works better, see?” whilst actually doing it? Guess what? Change happens.

Now, I don’t want you to just take my word for it that this is the case. I want you to be as inspired as I am. I am going to give some examples both small and large scale of how this phenomena is manifesting in the real world.

Example Number 1: Microfinance

Now this is a topic which I have raised before, I know, but it bears mentioning again because of further developments which I would like to discuss. For those of you you aren't aware microfinance is the phenomenon of very small scale loans made available to people who classically would never pass a credit check because they are so far below the poverty line.

This has mostly taken the form of charitable organisations such as Lend With Care (link on the right) who invite Joe public to make small donations, then pick a micro-entrepreneur with a business plan on the strength of the pitch in their profile. This might be a loan to pay for the kit to start up a shoe-shining business. It might be a loan to buy a couple of cows to make cheese for sale. The possibilities are endless. The borrower pays the money back over 12 months or so and then the donator has the opportunity to either take their donation back or relend it as many times as they want. The very definition of the gift that keeps giving.

This is fantastic! It has changed the lives of thousands already and will continue to do so. Where the interesting and controversial development in this story has taken place, is in the emerging market for microfinance for profit. This idea has met with significant opposition from people who classically favoured the idea of microfinance purely because it looks (and is) like rich people making money off the poor. What this critique fails to recognise is (in the first place) the difference this has made in the lives of all those people who have clawed out of extreme poverty thanks to this life-line. In the second instance it doesn't take account of the genius of turning positive social change into a wider social and economic benefit. It stands to reason that in a capitalist society the fastest way to make major positive change, is to make it profitable to do so! If wealthy investors start lining up to lend money to the poor (so long as the money is spent on them improving their economic status) then the positive impact will be immeasurable! Yes the rich get richer, but for once, the poor are not getting poorer. If that isn't progress, what is?!

Example 2: Guerilla Gardening

From the global scale to a more home grown (ahem) sort of change-making. Have you noticed in your town that there are dissused public spaces? Have local government funding-cuts left your public spaces looking lack-lustre and overgrown? Well the founders of guerilla gardening (link on the right) noticed too. They decided to stop petitioning their local councils for something to be done and guess what? They just went ahead and did it!

This is a truly heartening success story. A group of strong-minded practicle folk with green fingers noticed that a large amount of public space was either wasted or just going to rack and ruin through neglect. These people congregated, planned, organised, went out and by god they planted. Flowers, trees, food crops from salad leaves and herbs, to full on raised vegetable beds. All with no expectation of reward and for the benefit of their wider communities. Suddenly instead of overgrown unenterable spaces there were spots of beauty with cropping food plants free for any passer by to harvest.

Not only were these benefits bestowed on those local to the guerilla gardners' efforts but suddenly new hubs for social interaction have been created. The direct result? Closer communities with a greater awareness for the spaces around them, and an army of new willing volunteers wanting to lend a hand. Genius.

These guys are awesome, check out their website.

Example 3: Global Communication

This is the moment where I pray a moment's silence to give our global thanks to Sir. Tim Berners-Lee for the creation of the internet and for his generosity in making sure that it was free to access for all people. He didn't make a penny. God bless you, Sir!

The reason I have chosen Global Communication as my third positive change to highlight, is due to the unifying effect that it has had on people the world over. Before any conspiracy theorists clamber up on their soap boxes and grab their loud hailers I'd better clarify that I'm not in support of one world government. What I am in favor of is the unification in purpose and spirit of human beings from every cultural background.

Social networking sites and forums on every topic under the sun have enabled a cross cultural global melting pot of free-flowing conversation to erupt. The net effect on global consciousness of this evolving world-wide digital neural network can be likened to the effect of the development of language on the cognitive and social abilities of early man. It's that big.

I hear so many people of the older generations decrying the decadence of the youth of today...well, bullshit! Older members of society have always decried the lack of moral fibre of their younger counterparts. In the 60s the scared conservatives cried havoc at the behavior of the 'hippies'... one of the biggest cultural movements for peace, love and tolerance the world has seen. Is the hypocrisy here not plain?

The youth of today are more switched on than they are given credit for - and what's more, they are engaged in a global conversation. They are interested, they are asking questions and they are looking for alternative ways to grow our society.


Source

Its now time for me to appologise to the older members of society... because you know what. They are more interested and engaged than they have ever been either. The world is in political and social turmoil - undoubtedly. However, awareness of this has never been greater. An ever growing number of people of all ages and cultural backgrounds are no longer content to take the story about the way the world is that is being fed to them by the media, the corporations and the 'powers that be'.

The internet has empowered people to tell their stories as they live them at one end, and at the other it has allowed access to a wealth of unfiltered information to the switched on members of the new global consciousness.

We have been empowered to choose our perception of the reality we live in. Our beliefs (while still heavily influenced) have been put back into our control. Through our engagement in what I call, "The Great Conversation" we allow ourselves to exercise our own powers of discernment which gives us the power as Jason Silva says in his youtube talk on Optimism, to "co-author our existence".

To Conclude

These are just three examples of positive change that is going on in the world today! There is so much more to talk about! Advances in medical science, advances in nano-tech and quantum computing. The changes in lifestyle that people are choosing not because its easy, but because they feel their responsibility and are acting accordingly.

There is bad stuff happening in the world for sure - but don't let this blind you to the wonders that are springing up everywhere.


I've added my two pennies worth to the conversation - what about you?

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