I was just searching for something else…and came across this reply I made concerning a post by Alex Steffen on WorldChanging. (There was also a good discussion on small arms trade that’s worth revisiting as well.) I walked past a Tamil protest in the city today and, once again, am considering the effects of revolutions on revolutionaries and—especially—on people caught in the middle. The comment below concerned The Green Revolution; however, as I think that political and environmental revolutions are closely entwined, the discussion is parallel. The comment:
“Revolutions are rarely bloodless (in the quite literal sense); you and I would have it so. We all discuss ways of positive change; we begin a thousand incremental movements toward a sustainable place for all living things. But as Jonathan mentions above, there are billions of people who are not necessarily thinking about this right now. They are not taking those steps. Our revolution may be velvet; though we must consider all the clouded rhetoric that surround these issues, at least we have the power to discern and determine our futures through “lifestyle choices.” We have in our hands a spectrum of paths that point to any number of futures. But, I fear, there are so many in the world who face a starker and much bloodier tomorrow.
If we are to have any future, the revolution (and I’m using that term without a solid definition here) will come. But, nothing dealing with ideas at such a large scale comes overnight; nothing comes to all of us at once. We’ve begin in the Global North, we take [those] steps (though more slowly that some of us would like to see); we are hopeful these will negate the damages done. We are hopeful that it’s not too late to heal. But, while we change, we ride on a cache of social order and wealth. Most of the South has no such buffer; the revolution will hit them hard and suddenly (we can already see this happening in places with scarce water resources and where food supply is endangered by global warming; the knock-on social effects are apparent).
I say all the above to consider this: You and I know that radical change is needed; we have good hopes of determining what this is and living it out. Though I’m not completely living it now, I hope to do so in the incoming years so that all is well and I am not detrimental to society or the planet. All of “us” commit to this; we manage to become a positive encouragement in our society and change it for the better. Millions of “us” change; however, there are still billions of people on the planet who were not part of this initial revolution. There are still billions operating under “the old systems.” How do we bring the revolution to them?
Alex, you are right, we have the responsibility to dream a new future for the world; it’s not enough to sit tidy at home. I do not think it grandiose to say that we must now think ideas that are better than what humanity has ever thought. All action springs from ideas, we must have the best ideas and inspire people with them.
What ideal world do we advocate? I think we do not yet have anything that would unify humanity to change in the radical way needed. We don’t have, for lack of a better metaphor, a scripture for the future of the world. (Or, perhaps, we haven’t properly interpreted the text written in nature all around us.) I can make the changes needed to save my world; that decision is relatively painless (though it require a complete restructuring of all my thought and action). The difficult part of a revolution is not changing me; the difficulty is generating and disseminating the ideas that change others. How do we shape the ideas of all the people in the world in the short time we have to do so? How do we make the green revolution velvet for us all?”