Why Don't We Take Action on the Global Crisis?
Why Don't We Take Action on the Global Crisis?
By Joe Brewer / medium.com

Taking action requires practice, and that means training for it. Simply put, we have not been training to build the skills necessary for actively evolving the institutions of our civilization — so we are not skilled in the practices needed to do the work.

Most social change organizations are built around the dualistic perspective that separates them from their communities. We will do the work if you give us money in the form of donations to do it for you. This is the basic economic transaction of professional identity politics. Note how it fails to includetraining people to take effective actions that lead to real and meaningful change in the world.

Why don’t more people “take action” on climate change? Is it that they are afraid of the very idea that their own consumer behaviors are contributing to the death of the biosphere? Or maybe it’s that they simply don’t know what they can do to really make a difference on this complex issue.

What is keeping our citizenries from making democracy work in our own countries? Is it that we were never taught how to identify someone with legitimate expertise and moral character? Or maybe it’s that we don’t know how to take responsibility for our own actions when things are rough.

How do we continue to grow a cancerous economic system when all signs show that it will eventually kill us? Might it be that we just don’t know how to change it? Or maybe it’s that we haven’t built the entrepreneurial skills to create the change ourselves.

My partners at Exile and I have been delving deeply into this inquiry for months now — building on decades of training in the bodily practices each of us has in the martial arts, dance, and athletic performance. What we realized is that it is only through training that one achieves high levels of competence in their craft.

We become great musicians by practicing our scales, building up the muscle memory of our finger movements and breathing, and performing with other musicians who have skills we want to learn.

We become great athletes by taking classes, joining teams, and working with coaches who train us alongside other aspiring athletes to become physically fit, develop effective techniques, and become experienced at playing the games we eventually excel at.

So why is it that civic engagement is treated differently? When it comes to the processes of democracy, we are told that all we need do is show up and vote from time to time or sign the occasional petition. Or perhaps we are asked to share a piece of content on our Facebook wall or show up to hold signs at a protest.

This isn’t training. It is not a pathway to excellence. And it won’t create the changes our societies desperately need in these turbulent times.

Imagine for a moment that social change was an art form. How would someone become a social change artist? They might start out as seekers of knowledge who look at the great artwork of change makers who came before — devouring case studies and documentaries about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, the merchants of Venice who created early forms of corporate organization that were later refined by the Dutch and English, those civil rights warriors who fought against systems of oppression, or the educators who teach new techniques that go on to transform entire fields of practice.

But this wouldn’t be enough.

They would then need to seek teachers with whom they can practice the art of social change. They might volunteer with a community organization, create a local campaign of their own, or become an entrepreneur and start a new business. But they wouldn’t do it alone. Their actions would be guided by the skilled leadership of someone more experienced than they are. And they would take actions that didn’t work — failing and struggling often as their bodies became attuned to the practice of interfacing with emotional turmoil, active resistance, squashed dreams, and the pain felt by those around them (and within themselves) who were also in the struggle that had captivated them.

Note how different this is from the classic concepts of Liberal Democracy that tell us everyone has an equal voice because all that matters is identifying with a cause and become part of a special interest group. In that mental model, all that is needed is to give consent. Make an endorsement. Then step aside and let whomever is representing the cause take forth any policy changes that will somehow magically happen afterwards.

Missing in this model is the cultivation of mastery through training and practice. And so also is missing the physical capacity to live out the tensions of struggle, failure and progress that constitute real-world change processes.

I offer that this is the reason more people don’t act on the global convergence of crises humanity is now facing. We simply have not been trained for it and so we don’t know how to do it.

It is time for the trainers to step forth. Humanity needs us.

Onward, fellow humans.

Want to support my work? Appreciate my writings? Make a contribution here.

4.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Inside the Invisible Government: John Pilger on War, Propaganda, Clinton and Trump
John Pilger · 10,355 views today · The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was...
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 9,229 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Free Trade Explained In An Excellent Comic
Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr · 5,938 views today · The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are the latest in a long line...
Democracy in the Digital Era
Birgitta Jonsdottir · 5,132 views today · Our current democratic models are crumbling and outdated. We need to make something more real and meaningful. Activist and politician Birgitta Jónsdóttir points to how it might...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 4,790 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 4,219 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 3,162 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Open Up - Have the Difficult But Important Conversations With Loved Ones
5 min · 2,696 views today · “The biggest casualty of humanity is the lack of communication, it’s the thing that breaks most relationships. It just feels so much better to talk and get it out.” There is...
Who I'm Voting For...
3 min · 2,532 views today · Prince Ea announces who he's voting for. It's probably not who you think.
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
3 min · 2,222 views today · In addition to her well-known autobiographies, Maya Angelou has steadily written poetry over the years. In this video Professor Angelou recites her poem, "And Still I Rise,"...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,373 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 953 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 757 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 708 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
'Maritime Graveyard': 2016 Deadliest Year Ever for Refugees Crossing Mediterranean
Deirdre Fulton · 705 views today · "From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," says UNHCR spokesman
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 651 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
#Hypernormalisation - Why Heathrow Plan Is Proof We Exist in a Catastrophic Fantasyland
Matthew Adams · 634 views today · The British government recently gave the green light for Heathrow airport’s third runway. It was heralded by its supporters as a vital boost for jobs and growth – and proof...
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 505 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 440 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
The Anthropocene Is Here: Humanity Has Pushed Earth Into a New Epoch
Deirdre Fulton · 431 views today · The epoch is thought to have begun in the 1950s, when human activity set global systems on a different trajectory
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Why Don't We Take Action on the Global Crisis?