[Back to Improving the World]
Hearts and minds are a very challenging thing to influence! It is clear that, certainly in the West, we are dealing with decades of indoctrination that have resulted in a larger number of people believing in the ethos of the individual rather than the community. Of self interest rather than communal interest.
Ordinary people face an incredible challenge if they are to change the direction of travel. Our institutions, even in so called democratic countries, are often difficult to participate in without serious personal compromise, our political parties are more of a straight jacket than a platform for informed discussion and learning. Our electoral systems are heavily weighted toward those who already have power. The personal sacrifice involved in spear heading a particular single issue initiative is more often than not enough to dishearten even the most vehement campaigner. Those with resources, financial or in terms of existing networks, have a massive advantage.
The issues facing societies seem to growing by the year.
During my early years it was the threat of nuclear annihilation that preoccupied the thinking mind, now the stakes have got much higher with the threat of global climate change, depreciation and environmental corruption and pollution. Link that with a global population growth that is clearly unsustainable and it is clear that without radical and effective change and leadership, mass migration, shortage of fuel, food and water, we are going to see an escalation in war, increasing instability and a very great deal of suffering as a result.
History has shown that stress within societies often leads to fracturing, people resorting to fundamentalist religion and politics and the imagined threat from those who are different.
Frankly, I am mostly pessimistic. It seems to me that in many ways knowledge and understanding can either be debilitating (the challenge is so huge) or energising (doing what we can). I fluctuate if I'm honest. My involvement with local democracy in our local Community Council is very dispiriting, most of the time is spent in placating the imposed bureaucracy rather than getting anything done. Part of me is deeply sympathetic with those who feel we are suffocating under a controlling and constraining system that thinks that rules, regulations and tick boxes address the problems of society, not so much the woke brigade as the regulation regime!
There is the occasional encouragement though. I have been encouraged recently by a person leaving positive feedback on a conversation on Facebook regarding free will and how we deal with people who behave in ways incompatible with societal values. However I think the audience for rational debate leading to changing behaviours is very limited, especially in open public forums where received wisdom from tradition, populism or what feels good is often overwhelming..
I think most people try to be nice, but are very vulnerable to passivity, especially when action requires any personal sacrifice or risk. I too see this in myself.
So what to do? I feel like we're deflecting snowflakes in the face of an avalanche.
I hope that in the comments we can discuss this and find ways of being less overwhelmed and more encouraged.