Human beings are generally compassionate, cooperative creatures. Each day, individuals and organizations relieve suffering and improve the world. But our global social system breeds fear, foments hate, divides people, and undermines community. To steadily transform that System, activists and activist organizations need to change how they operate so they can be more effective.
Our major institutions, our culture, and we ourselves fit together to form the System, which is fueled by the drive to get ahead of others, climb the social ladder, and look down on those below. Hyper-competitive individualism and feverish ambition help preserve the power chain and its dominate-or-submit dynamic.
In our daily lives, individuals strengthen the System with actions like not treating each other with respect, buying cheap products made in other countries, and being seduced by mass marketing. Activist organizations reinforce the System with actions like competing with one another, scapegoating opponents, being dogmatic, and failing to nurture compassionate hearts and minds.
Societies tend to label, rank, disrespect, and discriminate against certain categories of people, which serves to divide and conquer. We pigeonhole people and place them in superficial pecking orders. In ways that are often unconscious, we neglect the equal value of each person and feel superior to some and inferior to others. We learn to dominate or submit. That self-centeredness carries over into nationalism, as nations try to exploit other nations to serve their own self-interest.
To restructure that System, we must learn to care for one another more fully and promote the common good of the Earth Community — all humanity, all living beings, the environment, and life itself — and reform our institutions, our culture, and ourselves to serve that purpose.
Activist organizations can unite with one another more consistently to focus on achievable objectives favored by a majority of their fellow citizens, help their members unlearn counterproductive tendencies, inspire and attract members with a positive vision, and make our society more democratic.
- Establish a balance between self-interest and the common good.
- Resist oppression and neglect.
- Relate to one another as human beings.
- Remember that no evil deed is a reflection of the whole person.
- Not allow anger to become hatred.
- Seek reconciliation when in conflict.
- Be humble.
- Develop collaborative leadership.
- Accept that we cannot achieve everything we want.
- Nurture helpfulness, honesty, forgiveness, and a passion for justice.
By sharing meals, socializing informally, enjoying life together, and listening to peers report on their efforts, activists who belong to the same organization can support each other’s personal growth and political action — and encourage the full membership to do the same. Unaffiliated activists and members of various organizations can also form independent support groups. Occasionally, representatives from all of those groups can compare notes, plan actions, and attract new members.
In these ways, we can grow a network of holistic communities that address the whole person and care for the whole world.
If you agree with these principles and want to be kept informed about efforts to transform the System, please endorse this statement at TransformTheSystem.org (coming soon).