When I created this blog over two years (and 385 posts) ago, I called it “Quakers, Social Justice and Revolution” because great changes were occurring, and will continue to come faster and with more disruption in the coming days. Revolution is being forced upon us.
Some changes were obvious. The explosion in the number and use of personal automobiles, and construction of millions of large homes with huge volumes of air to be cooled in the summer and heated during the winter continue to consume fossil fuel supplies, which are both limited and not renewable. The carbon dioxide produced increasingly traps heat in the atmosphere and oceans, and makes the ocean water acidic, killing marine life. Hotter air and ocean waters produce droughts and extreme weather patterns.
Industrialization resulted in the mass migration of people from rural areas to cities. These people had to rely on their wages to meet their needs for food, shelter, heat, healthcare, transportation, all the products and services they needed. This worked well when there was nearly full employment. But then automation, and moving factories out of the country for cheap labor, eliminated millions of jobs.
Industry, that once supported the workers who made the company a success, now makes decisions based totally on profitability. This has led to incredible inequalities of wealth. We have not figured out how to adjust to that. Millions of people are left depending upon inadequate and disappearing social safety nets, and family.
Recognizing the increasing unrest of the masses, those in power do what they always do–create false narratives about “others” to blame, suppress civil liberties, repress dissent, militarize the police, and control the media.
How to prepare for the future in the face of this?
Some people have, and gradually more are beginning to figure out how to adapt to these changes. The government is becoming increasingly unable to function. The latest election and the takeover of state governments by social conservatives will further dismantle social programs and civil liberties. Those in political power are misusing that power to protect their party, not govern for all of us. The mechanisms for creating national legislation to promote the general welfare have become so corrupt that it no longer makes sense to invest our time and efforts there. City governments can still be effective.
What each of us needs is our vision of the future we would like to see. That will help us figure out what communities we want to be involved with. Because the future will require that we return our focus to where we live, and who we associate with. As the social and political structures we are used to unravel, it will be up to us to build their replacement. We need figure out our goals, then find allies and the mechanisms to achieve those goals.
This has the potential to help make our lives more meaningful. Instead of isolation, all manner of good things happen when we get involved with others in our communities. We need to re-examine what our values really are, how to live the way we want to be in the world, and how to develop those values. Avoid committee meetings and seek out opportunities to actually do something. As my friend Alvin says, “what actually happened as a result?”
Don’t give in to fear. Instead think of the good examples of life you have seen and experienced. Figure out how to make those things happen once again, for yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Key to this is moving outside yourself. Those who are finding good ways forward today are doing so by building community. You will know you are on the right path when you find your circle of friends expanding, and you have found projects that mean something to you and others to work on.