Once again, thanks to Russell Brand this time, a revolution is what’s being talked about.
Once again, one person gets the spotlight and supporters flock to his words (and detractors to disagree).
Once again, basic misunderstandings make sure that nothing will, in all probability, change.
The problem is and has remained the same since the time of the hippies, if not since people like the American Romantics (think Henry David Thoreau and Walden), let alone the environmentalists of the 1980’s and 90’s: There is an over-reliance on the idea that it is our ideas and worldviews, environmental attitudes and awareness, that can and must be changed and will then change everything.
This time, in the usual fashion, it was – is again:
“We no longer have the luxury of tradition. But before we change the world, we need to change the way we think.”
(Russell Brand in New Statesman)
It is the “idealist” perspective, not just as in “this would be much better (or perhaps perfect)” but also as in “culture and human behavior are predominantly shaped by ideas.”
Of course, there is an aspect of that. If we believe that our willpower is not a limited resource but can be expanded, we actually have more willpower. If we think that we have choice and can change things, we are likely to feel better about ourselves, be less compliant, and try to change more.
There are two glaring problems, though:
For one, just as goals greatly fantasized about can have us think that we’ve basically already achieved them and not take a single step towards their actual achievement, thinking that we all have to – and all we have to do is – think differently tends to have us think that we personally think differently already.
Just click “like,” write a line in support, and think you’ve put in your support. We don’t do anything more, though, except maybe argue with others who don’t subscribe to our worldview about who’s right and who’s wrong.
Meanwhile, secondly, as attitudes and awareness do not directly translate into action, the material aspects of how we make a living and even the ideological (and “materialized”) matters of what we see as a lifestyle to aspire to and actually show in our life practice but rarely change.
Maybe a few people follow through, realize – put in practice, make material – their views, but the majority, at best, shows support in the symbolically relevant purchase of “green” products, typically paid for by jobs that are still based on exploitation of, rather than co-creation with, ecosystems.
(And have you seen how much “green” products cost, let alone considered how they’re typically just tacked on to the “normal” cheap product lines of big corporations?)
“Perhaps if we could popularise through the techniques of branding and consumerism, a different idea, a different narrative, perhaps the world can change. After all it changes constantly and incessantly, it’s just the perceptions that we have are governed by people with self-interest and are not in alignment with the health and safety of us as individuals or as a planet.”
(Russell Brand again)
Of course we need to tell better stories, show the potential of working towards the things that really make happy and are aligned with the functioning of the ecosystems that we ourselves are and that we are an integral part of, without which there’d be no happiness in living because there could be no living – but it’s not the narrative in and of itself that changes things. Al Gore still has his private jet.
Changing practice(s) changes things, and when that changed way becomes the normal and good – nay, better – way of (making a) living and having a better life, with meaning and purpose not just imbued in products to purchase and use to show one’s convictions, all charged with supposed potential thanks to marketing, but realized in the practical performance of living that is charged with purpose and meaning thanks to it being done with purpose and meaning – then things really change.
No single “revolution in human consciousness” is required for that. We don’t all have to agree on the one single way to live – and perhaps can’t change the very fabric of what makes us, anyways. We can still (and we would do well to) live in support of our better natures, though.
In fact, it’s our very diversity that we need to work towards, again (given how much of it we’ve been losing).
All it takes – and that is difficult enough, given that the one single aspirational, consumerist, lifestyle has been spreading everywhere thanks to the obvious advantages it has, or at least seemed to have had, so far – is the common understanding, put into practice, of our intimate dependence on and relationship with the Earth. In the global sense that we are all in this one world together, but also and most importantly in the local practice that requires us to learn and live co-creatively in and with the ecosystems and environments, human and mineral, hot or cold, botanical and animal, wild and planted, we find ourselves in and have been creating.
There, starting in our own living, with our own hands, the revolution starts.