Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#121 / Be The Change

I see "Be The Change" bumperstickers all around town. I see them in my neighborhood. Great sentiment! 

This bumpersticker wisdom originates, I think, from something Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Again, good advice! 

Considering his life and work, it is unlikely that Gandhi was trying to promote an individualistically oriented "be the change" methodology. Changing the world is not something you can do by yourself. Neither is Gandhi's advice based on the kind of wishful thinking advocated by The Secret. That book advises us (paraphrase from Wikipedia) that "positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness." The way The Secret sees it, thinking those positive thoughts has an almost independent effectiveness, and will change the world pretty much along the lines of those great Glenn Miller lyrics, "Wishing Will Make It So." Listen to Frank Sinatra sing it. That should make a believer out of you!

I actually do have a lot of respect for The Power of Positive Thinking, both the concept and the Norman Vincent Peale book that Amazon calls a precursor to The Secret. My father brought me up that way. However, I do not much trust an individualistic or wishful thinking approach to changing the world. In the end, "positive thinking" and "being the change" as an individual activity are both necessary, but not sufficient.

Gandhi was one of the most effective political organizers in the history of humanity. He was not just a phrase maker. Our world is a collective work, and changing the world is not an individual activity.

It's political.

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