Over the last few decades, I have been a happy member of the social change family. All over the world, I’ve found well intentioned people giving their time, energy and even their lives in pursuit of a better future for humanity.
I am occasionally asked in a cynical voice “When will your revolution happen? Where is the change?”
I’ve thought a lot about this – where is our revolution? Is it ever going to happen? What will change look like and how will life be after it comes through? Who will be the people who will make it happen?
My initial search for leaders and frameworks, answers and actions led to a cycle. I’d be excited about finding something that looked like “IT”, have an initial burst of success, start questioning it and very soon see it collapse under the burden of that scrutiny.
Over time I have realised that the real issue wasn’t in the lack of answers but in my own inability to see.
Schooled in the mainstream ways of thinking, doing and being, I was unconsciously looking for “THE” answer or even “AN” answer. The MBA within me was asking what can scale up? Where are the ‘focal points’ of change, where is the leverage?
Unfortunately, this line of thinking only leads to disappointment and an inaccurate conclusion that no change is in sight.
Rather, the nature of our revolution is very different. It is the opposite of the mainstream in many ways. It has all the qualities of a counter-crisis.
Instead of one monolithic edifice, the revolution is many small, diverse initiatives. Unlike McDonald’s that has one brand and a similar looking store anywhere in the world, our revolution has many different names, many different shapes and forms.
The mainstream runs on speed and impact. The revolution is slow and most of it is invisible in that it is in the subtle realm. Most of this change can’t be ‘measured’ and it refuses to yield to the objective metrics of the current culture.
Rather than being all consuming, like capitalism, it is all embracing. It assimilates without distorting the essence of the person, organization or movement. It preserves its delicate diversity.
There are hardly any plans and predictability in the revolution. It is emergent and ever evolving like life itself. It is not extractive but life enhancing for every one who comes in contact with it.
The revolution lives in millions of initiatives spread all over the world, sustained by the One spirit that pervades this space (whatever you may name it, its existence is largely experiential)
Now, seen backwards, it all makes sense. A revolution for nature will ‘naturally’ look like nature! After all, we are only being extensions of the same life force that sustains the planet and makes the stars dance around each other.
So what does all of this mean? What does it mean to be a part of a distributed movement that isn’t even fully self aware? How does it reach full potential? How does it birth the new?
In very practical terms it means at least three things.
One, that we must learn to see the revolution and our embeddedness in it. This recognition is mainly energetic. We call it the “nameless tribe”. When you meet a co-traveller, share your journeys, hopes and dreams. It is one part of the movement meeting the other.
Two, it means that we must move from doing our local work to connecting more deeply with other initiatives of all types. Our extended focus on our cause, our strength has meant that we have overlooked what becomes possible when we come together and dance. The larger, systemic shifts are only going to happen through co-ordinated, collective action.
And finally, it means trusting the process. There are no certainties in the revolution. It may take many hundred years or radical shifts may start happening in the next decade itself. We do not know.
All we know is that a new organ of the Gaia is being born, and that the ‘cells’ who feel like they’re a part of the organ must start coming together. Just like an assembly of rods and cones create the eye, which can then perceive the world in a whole new way, ours is a journey of connecting and coming together while remaining grounded in our essence.