When the word revolution is mentioned, what comes to mind? Wars? Death? Hardship?
What comes to mind with the word change? Education? Organization? Peace?
What is a revolution? Merriam-Webster.Com defines a revolution as:
- a. A sudden, radical, or complete change
- b. A fundamental change in political organization; especially: the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed
- c. Activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation
- d. A fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something: a change of paradigm
- e. A changeover in use or preference especially in technology1
When we think of revolution, we often imagine the graphic scenes we find displayed on CNN of foreign freedom fighters fighting bloody battles to the death in the streets to overthrow a government and bring about change. Maybe we may recall images and facts from our own U.S. history books of the Revolutionary War and the violent battles fought against our oppressors in order to win our freedom. Such acts of violence were solutions to very serious and oppressive ways of life. But is it the only way to bring about drastic change? Is it what this country needs now?
In certain circles and organizations, the word “revolution” is being spoken more and more. What has started as a mere whisper is growing in to a louder, more confident voice demanding change. But what does that change look like? How does one go about implementing such a change? If someone is upset about the United States tax policy, can they enact change by no longer filing a tax return? Probably not. They would most likely be penalized, audited, and possibly incarcerated. But what if every single American taxpayer decided not to file a tax return? Would the IRS be able to prosecute every single citizen? I know: There is no way every single American would agree to join such a movement. But what if enough citizens were able to organize a mass tax return omission that would be a large enough group to make the act unenforceable due to a limited number of IRS Agents? Now we’re onto something. This one simple act of defiance among a mass of people could cause a “sudden, radical, or complete change.” It may even cause a “fundamental change in a political organization,” if it received enough attention. Would any wars have to be fought? Would anyone have to get hurt? Most likely, no.
We live in a time where there are constant complaints about our governments, policies, and ways of life. We see and hear of violent protests overseas, and we constantly hear of the repressive and destructive practices of world corporations. As an individual, one often thinks he is powerless to do anything.
“I’m just one person. My contribution will never matter.”
Are you sure? Tell that to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Listen to the words of John Lennon when he said: “Imagine all the people living in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” 2 All three had influence. All three changed the world. They were all individuals, but they understood the power of US. Their acts, their words, and their beliefs were used to influence the people around them, and it worked! They may not have found all of the success they hoped for, but they opened peoples’ eyes. They started a movement of peace and unity. They started a revolution.
It seems like each time I turn on the TV or log onto the Internet, I find a story of sadness and hardship. I listen to countless complaints, and have read the blogs of numerous activists working diligently to educate the masses about each of their respective causes. Most of the time, however, I hear people complaining. I hear people saying what they think should happen. But I rarely hear people talking about what they are doing. Change does not have to be a giant act. It can be as simple as buying from a different store, using less electricity, or donating to a specific cause. As an individual, your one small act may make only the tiniest imprint in the cause. But if your small act is combined with the small acts of thousands of other people rallying for change, your tiny imprint has just become a massive footprint. As David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas stated: “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” 3 We are that ocean, and our acts are a multitude of drops. Together, WE have the power to bring about change.
But where does one begin? How does one get involved? Below is a list of guidelines towards peacefully changing the world: one choice at a time. We do not need acts of violence. We do not even need to get angry. We simply need to act, and we need to act together.
- Identify Your Cause: Before you can make a change, you have to identify exactly what it is you want to change. Get specific with your cause because the more specific you are, the easier it will be for you to decide on the best course of action for change. Are you looking for education reform? Which specific areas are you looking to reform? Class size? Testing? Funding? Once you have identified your cause, it will be easier for you to formulate a plan, network, and take action.
- Educate yourself: Learn everything you possibly can about your specific cause. Even if you take only five minutes per day to read a single article, no knowledge will be wasted. The better informed you are, the better prepared you will be when it comes time to put your plan of change into action. In today’s society, we have the ability to learn about anything we want. Television has a multitude of channels. There are books, magazine articles, e-books, and movies. If they are not appealing to you, there is always the Internet: social networking, blogs, and YouTube can offer a wealth of quick bits of information. Learn everything you can.
- Network: Once you have identified your cause and started learning about it, meet people who have the same views and goals as you. Social networking and the Internet has made this incredibly easy. There are countless groups and online organizations where people can meet to talk and share ideas, links, and information. Facebook has a vast network of groups and organization pages. Yahoo! Groups also offers countless forums to share information. With these groups, you can continue to learn and develop your cause, and receive regular updates, alerts, and e-mails. As you get to know your network, start to identify the strengths of your new found colleagues. What can they contribute to the cause? What are they willing to commit?
- Organize: By this point, you should be well educated in your specific cause. Through your networking, you should have made several contacts with not just people, but also organizations and businesses. You should have already identified the specific areas in which you want to make a change and you have found others who want the same things. Start to organize. Conduct regular meetings: in person, or online. Start a blog or group geared towards your specific cause. Utilize the network you have built to grow your organization and draw other like-minded people to your cause.
- Plan & Act: Once your objectives of change have been identified, and your organization has networked with and encompassed an adequate number of individuals, it is time to develop a plan for action. Violence should never be an option; as such acts will only complicate matters and cause undue hardship on communities, infrastructure, and innocent bystanders. Set your boundaries and recognize what the consequences are for your actions. Now it’s time to make your change. Do you disagree with a policy or cut at your place of employment? Organize your colleagues and go on strike. Plan a boycott of a particular product to influence corporations. Print flyers, buy local, carpool, adopt from an animal shelter. DO SOMETHING!
Once you have put your plan into action, be patient. Change does not come easy, and it often takes time and dedication. It can take sacrifice and a commitment, but if you have followed these steps, you will be well vested in your movement. Sacrifices made on your own terms for the betterment of society are far better than sacrifices imposed on you for the selfish greed of a select few. If we can learn to use the tools we have at our fingertips to educate, organize, and act, we can change the world!
What would happen if an entire community worked together to invest in alternative energy? What impact would that have locally on a power company? Locally, everyone would have more money in their pockets and free energy coursing through their homes. More money could go into local businesses and an entire community could thrive. What if the movement caught on? Think about the power that oil companies have in this world. What if we, as consumers, simply took that power away? Sure, the investment may be tough at the beginning, but in the long haul, we would all save so much money, invest in our own communities, and our carbon footprint on the environment would be drastically reduced. It is time to start living for one-another.
Life does not have to be cruel and violent. We have the power to change the world, but we need to do it together. It is time to stop talking and start acting. Stop admiring the problem and start addressing it. It is easy to complain and point fingers. It is easy to wait for someone else to step in and fix the problem. But what if that someone is you? The time for change is now. The question is: what are you going to do? Remember:
Small changes across the masses can have massive impacts around the world!
- Revolution Definition: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revolution
- John Lennon – Imagine
- David Mitchel Quotes: Good Reads – Cloud Atlas http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/4565.David_Mitchell