How many times did you hear someone talk or read what someone wrote about the need for “tangible, positive change”, or something along those lines?
I am not talking about “radical” or “revolutionary” change. I don’t mean the type of change that we read about in history books, attributed to gifted visionaries or charismatic leaders, often brought about in a forceful wave that wipes out the unfavorable status quo. Rather, what I am talking about here is the type of systematic, purposeful and incremental transformation in the current unsatisfactory state of affairs towards a better state of affairs.
Read that last sentence again. The operative words are systematic, purposeful and incremental transformation.
How many times did you actually see someone trying to induce “tangible, positive change” by “systematic and purposeful means”?
I believe grassroots movements are the coming agents of change. The literature is abound with explanations on why this is the case, but it mostly boils down to the fact that the traditional power hierarchies are being broken down by technological enablers and accelerating rates of change. Power (or the power to bring about change) is trickling down and being spread faster than ever. The main bottleneck for grassroots movements is no longer epistemological (as in knowing how or even why to act) but organizational (as in building up and sustaining initiative and action).
Education. Technology. Activism. The three corners of the grassroots triangle.
The problem with a systematic, incremental transformation, however, is that it is a long-run strategy. Long-run strategies have an inherent problem: They are boring. Human nature generally tends towards instant gratification. Patience is for hermits and monks. We want change now or soon, or why bother? Also, and unfortunately, In the long run, we’re all dead. A Kynesian truism.
The good news is that a systematic, incremental transformation does not necessarily require gifted visionaries or charismatic leaders (although their help would be definately nice). What it does need, in my opinion, is:
- Collective awareness: We can’t figure out how to go if we don’t know where we are or where we want to go. There must be a general collective agreement on the broad-brush aims
- Initiative hand-over: Any movement will have an initiative, but not any initiative survives. So many grassroots movements die because those who kicked things off stepped down (for some reason or another) but no one stepped in to carry the torch. Not because no one was willing, its just that they were never asked! Initiative is the first spark, but the fire must be kept on burning by actively transferring organizational responsibility.
I have more brain dump on that subject, just not in coherent form yet