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How To Change The System in Two Easy Steps

It seems no matter where you look, someone’s talking about how we need to ‘change the system’. Whether this desire is brought about by the climate emergency, social injustice or some hidden foreknowledge that the world is about to change, it does seem evident that major change of some kind is underway.

But, while many of us want to change to a new system, no-one quite seems to agree on what that new system should be. Whether you believe in ethical or green capitalism, or a universal basic income, or an anarchist, free-market libertarian system – or perhaps the end of capitalism altogether and the beginning of a no-money, open access economy – it seems there are almost as many new systems out there as there are people proposing them.

So which one is the right one?

Well, here’s the curveball.

What if I told you that changing the system is impossible because there is no system?

To which you might say: ‘But dude, we are subjected to a system of tyranny dictated by governments, banks and corporations. They control everything!’

Of course I get that people are angry, but today I want to try and show you how this ‘tyrannical system’ doesn’t actually exist and how we really ought to go about making the world the way we would like it to be.

So here are two truths that I think we all need to assimilate before we can hope to effect real change. If you’re like most revolutionaries I know, you’re probably not going to like either of them, but I hope you will end up agreeing that they are inescapably true – and that ‘changing the system’ doesn’t actually mean what you think it means.

#1. Who rules you?

When someone rules over you, two things happen:

  1. They rule you
  2. You submit to being ruled

Now, unless you are physically being held captive by someone using force against you, you may need to accept the fact that your submission is your responsibility.

And, by logical extension, we need to accept that a population collectively being ruled and abused by a small, rogueish few are not in fact victims of their oppressors, but rather victims of their own submission and failure to organise accordingly.

Are we doing the same in our ongoing world war of atrocities against the poor, the marginalised and the environment? I think so.

Think about this: Almost everyone blames the atrocities of Nazi Germany on one man or group of men, but how many people ever blame the millions of German citizens who submitted to that establishment and gave it oxygen? How far do you think Hitler would have got had millions of Germans citizens unilaterally withdrawn their support in, say, 1941?

Of course, I’m not suggesting that World War II German citizens were bad people, but they probably blindly acquiesced to a situation much more than they should have.

Are we doing the same in our ongoing world war of atrocities against the poor, the marginalised and the environment? I think so.

#2 We are the system

Have you ever watched a termite colony in action? I have. And the one thing that strikes you is how apparently well-structured and ordered their society is. One could easily assume that it’s an intelligently controlled and well managed system, but it isn’t.

Termite colonies are merely the result of thousands of individuals randomly doing whatever comes most naturally to them. The queen, the workers, the soldiers are not working to any scripted plan. It just appears that way.

It’s the very same with human societies. The social system that we perceive is what we look like from a distance. In other words, Our ‘system’ is nothing more than the cumulative effect of our individual actions.

How much money would a billionaire have if no-one recognised their currency? How much power would a government have if everyone stopped listening?

In our ‘system’ we see corruption, greed, poverty, crime, debt, injustice, environmental destruction, etc. – but who are the ones making the choices, buying the products and turning the blind eyes that support and perpetuate all those problems? We are.

And all those unfair laws and financial constraints? The only reason they are put upon us is because we collectively accept them as truth. Money and power only have value because of our beliefs in them. How much money would a billionaire have if no-one recognised their currency? How much power would a government have if everyone stopped listening?

We need to take back responsibility for our society and see our ‘system’ for what it is: one giant montage of our collective daily choices. It is our purchasing choices that wreak environmental devastation; our votes and attention that perpetuate political corruption; our greed that breeds inequality and crime.

And when you see it this way, you’ll soon realise that it’s actually good news. It means that we are the ones in charge. The small, daily acts of billions of people are far more powerful than any law or system could ever be.

And we can change.

Changing ourselves is easier than fighting some intangible, hateful object and getting nowhere. While our small changes won’t impact society overnight, they will inspire others to likewise and help us feel more empowered and at ease with the world.

And this way we don’t even have to think about what type of new society we are creating. As long as our shift in behaviour is about being more compassionate and responsible, then that is the kind of society we will finally create.

Gandhi was right. If we truly want to change society, we have to be that change. We are all tiny components of a complex, larger organism. If you truly want to change that organism, then start with you.

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