Imagine a world that is not absent of injustice, but one in which the people that are treated unjustly are empowered with such a rich connection to their inherent value and self-worth through their sense of belonging in society, that to address the injustice is seen as a welcome aspect of life’s work. Here, oppressed people are the canaries that help us all to identify unhealthy social structures that we commit to resolve at the root level of the injustice.
We can look forward to a world in which people are inspired to be present for their own liberation from oppressive forces, structures and institutions; no longer compelled by anger and separation, but by love and a desire for deeper connection; driven not by their wounds, but by their quest for healing.
This new world will find us putting as much value on “recycling” people as we are beginning to put on recycling things. We will recognize that most, if not all, of the discordant behavior of individuals is a direct expression of a larger tear in our social fabric. To weave those people back in strengthens our resolve to address societal ills, rather than weakens us by casting all that is a mirror and difficult for us to bear, aside.
I believe this different world is not only possible, but that it can be manifest by achieving a tipping point: one that is ushered in through the existing networks of individuals, informal groups, communities and organizations that are striving for justice in all arenas of society. The momentum for change that we are all suspended in in this historic chapter in our national—and global—story can be carried forth, made unstoppable by a fundamental shift in how we seek that change.
In this new world, the role of the agent of progressive social change is one that is deeply admired as an honorable undertaking, regardless of one’s political persuasion. The people that choose to commit their energy and time to hammer out a more just society are supported in equal measure by the individuals that have most benefited from past imbalance and injustice. The relationship of practitioner and funder of social change is best described as a true partnership rather than that of recipient and guardian of resources.
“Reaching across the aisle” will be the rule, not the exception. “Cabinets of Rivals” will be chosen to find real solutions to our most seemingly intractable differences. Blueprints for the redistribution of power, wealth and resources will be designed, leaving the humanity of those who would hoard resources intact, while still dismantling the systems that allow hoarding by anyone.
This new world it not only possible, but necessary. And we, as agents of that change, will thrive in seeking it.
THIS is a Transformative Social Change.
—yours in truth, aKw
dedicated to the many, many people that have spent, hours, months and years to bring us together at the 2010 US Social Forum to build and strengthen our movements. may we all engage our greatest skill and capacity to express our collective fearlessness and grace.
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angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary
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