The Need for Personal Activism

Our political systems are broken. Many of us have known that for a while now. We didn’t really need proof, but we have it for sure. Thank you Donald.

The “we” I am talking about is progressives, environmentalists, liberals, supporters of minorities and even compassionate libertarians. What we haven’t seen is that we are broken too. Despite some great successes like gay marriage and equal pay legislation, we haven’t really changed the world, or not sufficiently and not fast enough.

I say we are broken because we have lived inside that political box and accepted it as our reality. We see the immensity of the power structures and the huge machine of money and power. We see not only the people but the system that solidifies it all. We are happy that the system gives us foreign travel and mobile phones so we don’t want to destroy it, but we don’t know how to change it. That is a disempowering place to be.

Sometimes this reality feels like being a child, complaining to a mummy and daddy who care, but aren’t really listening. Sometimes if feels as if they don’t even care. We might do the same with “God”. In either case we are expecting “them” or “Him” to put it right. We think “they” should know better and that if only we could persuade them, or if there were enough names on our petitions, something would shift. That’s impotent too.

It is easy to be distracted. When animals are caught between two equal impulses – like a dog which wants to attack a rival but is scared to do so – they do something called “displacement activity”. The fight / flight energy has to go somewhere so, for example, they scratch themselves. Our displacement activity is to tweet or Facebook post our horror at how unspeakably awful Trump is. It is to vent our anger at the corruption of this or that party. We argue with each other about what the answer should be, and what “they” should do. Maybe we even sign another petition. It doesn’t make us happy, but at least we feel we have done something, though we haven’t, really. There is still no potency in it.

What if we don’t have to live inside that box? What if we stopped buying into that reality? There is a story of a guerrilla army fighting a desert war, and marching towards the city it needed to conquer. On the road to that city, the enemy had a huge fortress, filled with soldiers and weaponry, a hopeless situation. So the guerrilla leader took his soldiers around it, marching many extra miles, but eventually reached and took the city, which since all the soldiers were in the defensive fortress, was poorly defended.

What could OUR reality be if we stopped believing that the political power and the potential to change is in Washington, Brussels or Peking. What if all of our energy was to go into the things that you or I can do right now? What if we didn’t show up at the circus that has been provided for our distraction, but went where we can change something today, even for just one other person? What if we were to build the new society and the new reality?

It is time to stop putting our energy into protesting against Donald, his cronies and his seemingly idiotic policies. You cannot dent a punchbag and it is exhausting to try, however right we might be. Trump, Brexit and the like are our wake-up call. They show us that it is time to do something else.

I am not arguing against activism. Facebook is not activism, petitions are not and I believe that with rare exceptions, marching on rallies isn’t either. Another trap is the belief that we must first reach agreement on what is to be done. That is part of the old model, and as Buckminster Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Waiting for consensus is an inhibitor. We don’t need permission either. We are autonomous and we each have power, when we don’t surrender it mentally and emotionally to the system. We don’t have to buy the existing reality.

Instead of permission and consensus, we need trust. We have to trust our own knowing. We need to trust that as a collective, acting individually, the sum total of our actions will bring the required outcomes. Think Globally, Act Locally. Consider the Collective but Act Individually. We don’t have to plan, only surf the wave of existence. We will cluster and disperse as needed. Overall, our energy will go where it is called, resulting in self-organisation. Whatever you can do, whatever difference you can make where you are, do that. Surely that has to be more potent, more empowering and more satisfying. Carpe Diem.