A friend (Patti Digh) asked her Facebook friends (public post) what kind of society we should build as a result of what we are learning from this pandemic.
This was my response:
For any revolution to be successful we must first start to allow ourselves to be less than perfect and not expect someone else to set the table.
Utopias do not fail because they are utopian. They fail because we expect the utopia to do the work we need to do ourselves. First, self-compassion. Then vulnerability. Accepting that we are designed to need others. Needing help is a feature, not a bug. Simultaneously, we must step into our personal power to make change. Instead of waiting for a larger organisation (government, charity, corporations) to change, we must take as many of the opportunities to make a difference as possible.
We must understand that our “small” actions aren’t insignificant (as we are taught to believe they are) and that it is in those small actions that our power lies. A smile, a hug, a shoulder, a hand. Whatever opportunity presents itself that we can act on without expecting anything in return. It may seem small but I can tell you from experience (11 years of running HugTrain) that it can make a HUGE difference. So do what you can and know that it’s enough.
There are billions of us and only a couple thousand billionaires. It’s time to stop living in a world that is built to quell their insecurities instead of help each other thrive. We can make a difference. Ideally, money would become irrelevant, nothing would cost anything and everyone was doing what they loved and would be supported in developing their skills to become the best they can be at that thing instead of struggling to support themselves at a job they can get paid for because it suits the needs of the billionaire class and then find the time and money to learn. Private property wouldn’t exist either. But first, accept ourselves fully, pay it forward as often as possible and allow ourselves to ask for and need help.
It’s clearer than ever that we are sharing a planet and that all the divisions (demographics and borders) created so that the “perfect” and most desirable humans are rich straight white able cis men and everyone else is oppressed by being on the other end of any of these made-up privilege-oppression axes where both the existence of multiple privileges and oppressions serve to amplify each other in an exponential manner rather than a cumulative one.
Another thing to do is decolonise the world and language. Return the world to its indigenous peoples. This joyride has pretty much totalled the car but we still need to give it back to them. It was stolen and they were decimated and displaced and in many places assimilated by force which includes child abductions and trafficking.
Our biggest roadblock outside of how we expect perfection and invulnerability from ourselves and others are those who are among the billions of non-billionaires who defend, enable and enforce the systems of oppression we are forced to exist in. Without them normalising a world that is built to continue widening the “wealth” gap with both structural and interpersonal violence, the billionaires would be far less powerful. The billionaires of this world (and their bootlickers) have shown their true colours during this pandemic. Notably the richest one of all silenced employees who tried to organise the workers to demand safe working conditions while the billionaire took in $24B. Said billionaire also tried to create a fund for customers to take their own scarce money to supposedly help his employees deal with the pandemic. There isn’t a single billionaire that became one without trampling over the people who make them billionaires. Name a billionaire that hasn’t. Name a billionaire that pays employees living wages (including benefits like co-pay free, pre-existing condition insuring, network-less healthcare) and respects their customers and the environment. You can’t. That’s not how you become or stay a billionaire and it’s time to stop them from existing. And spare me the “but their philanthropy!” rebuttal. Their philanthropy is part of their tax evasion and PR schemes. That money isn’t generated by their hard work alone and soon the human employees they treat like robots will be replaced by robots and AI and surviving will be that much more difficult as the largest expense for a business disappears (and much of it is currently subsided by the government safety net – Walmart saves billions every year because they’re employees are all eligible for welfare, Medicare, Section 8 and/or SNAP) and is replaced by actual automatons. I’m all for automation but it should be used to free us up to discover and home our best selves.
Also, the state of the financial markets is what is guiding American policy on the pandemic and being that companies are first and foremost responsible to their shareholders in the form of profit and dividends not to mention that. when I worked in finance I realised how ethereal and precarious markets are and how powerful they are despite that, we must abolish them.
And I think we can also learn from my friend Hildy Gottlieb and participate in what she has coined as “collective enoughness” which means that together we can do great things if everyone contributes what they can rather than trying to be entirely self-sufficient and relying solely on money as a means of fulfilling the needs of your community. Vulnerability is essential to relationship building and therefore community building but we are taught to fear our vulnerability/imperfection rather than accept it and our need for others with complementary skills.
Sorry for the long autistic rant but I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and have been working on improving the world for years. I hope that this wake-up call is loud enough for people to hear it because I fear how loud the next alarm is going to be. And as usual, it is the oppressed who suffer the consequences of inaction the most.
What small action can you commit to in order to get the revolution going?
tl;dr If you want a successful revolution, start with kindness to yourself and others.