The r/evolution will be sensible

“this is the 21st century and we need to redefine r/evolution. this planet needs a people’s r/evolution. a humanist r/evolution. r/evolution is not about bloodshed or about going to the mountains and fighting. we will fight if we are forced to, but the fundamental goal of r/evolution must be peace.

we need a r/evolution of the mind. 

we need a r/evolution of the heart. 

we need a r/evolution of the spirit. 

the power of the people is stronger than any weapon. a people’s r/evolution can’t be stopped. 

we need to be weapons of mass construction. 

weapons of mass love. 

it’s not enough just to change the system. we need to change ourselves. we have got to make this world user-friendly.  

are you ready to sacrifice to end world hunger? to sacrifice to end colonialism. to end neo-colonialism. to end racism. to end sexism?

r/evolution means the end of exploitation. 

r/evolution means respecting people from other cultures. 

r/evolution is creative.

r/evolution means treating your mate as a friend and an equal. r/evolution is sexy.

r/evolution means respecting and learning from your children. r/evolution is beautiful.

r/evolution means protecting the people. the plants. the animals. the air. the water. r/evolution means saving this planet.

r/evolution is love.”

― Assata Shakur

As I read this quote from Assata Shakur (and if you don’t know her, check out her story here), I marvel at how people who have been unjustly treated in their struggles for social justice can be so gentle and constructive in their thinking. Encouraging of others to think creatively and kindly about how we tackle the predicaments within which we find ourselves. It speaks of an inner strength and peace that most of us don’t know.  And as I watch the struggles for civil rights and racial justice erupt again, in an era of growing fear and nationalism, I wonder how we can bring this definition of r/evolution to life for a better future for all of us. 

I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments.  The blend of evolution and revolution is critical. Nature shows us that evolution is the norm, but very much shaped by revolutions. Think about the revolution that came about when the dinosaurs became extinct and opened the opportunity for mammals to thrive. The movement of tectonic plates that shape our continents and ability to travel easily, the earthquakes as the plates collide that change the landscape and the possibilities.  And now, the emergence of a virus that we need to learn to live with for many years to come, that is endangering the very fabric of our society, as we retrench again to reduce the risks to our vulnerable.

The truth is that revolutions based on violence, anger and fear lead to more violence anger and fear. History is littered with them – France, Russia, China, Angola, Rwanda and Somalia. The list goes on. These types of revolution lead to megalomania, power lust and horrific exploitation. People and our non-human relatives suffer for many years. The elite’s privilege and ability to mobilise the machinery of war (both technological and psychological) are refined and reinforced. The belief that we are fundamentally bad and adversarial behaviour the norm, perpetuated. Neighbour set against neighbour. Division encouraged. Our place, as decreed by the Masters of the Universe, unquestioned. In a world where only one way is right.  Where any other way is subversive and must be stopped.

And I see our response to COVID-19 being couched in terms of war and aggression.  We must fight the virus.  Beat it into submission.  Blame others for its arrival and for its ability to rapidly spread.  Encourage neighbour to snitch on neighbour.  Threaten communities with the army if they don’t comply.  We are so used to getting our own way.  To having what we want, the instant we want it.  Muddling democracy and freedom with selfishness and greed, we don’t yet have a purposeful way to collectively tackle our problems.  To treat ourselves and each other as grownups, all of us part of every problem and every solution. 

So what kind of revolution do we need as we push the Earth’s life support systems toward a state that may no longer support us? One that has an evidence-based view of our place in the world and how we can make a difference. Grounded in individual action to change our own hearts, minds and behaviour first, so we are living aligned to the truths of our universe. One that is thoughtful, patient, purposeful and persistent. Where people mobilise where they are, understand that we live in complex systems and are part of, not separate to, nature. One where we harness the power of technology and our connections to places to collaborate and challenge the status quo as a global community. One where we are willing to suffer to make the world a better place but refuse to inflict suffering on others. One that isn’t looking to win in an adversarial situation, but one that is looking to build momentum in a transition to a better way for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

For the truth is that what we need is a sensible revolution. One that is focused on changing ourselves. On growing up, so that we tame our inner teenagers who crave instant gratification and approval. On seeing that we have power to make a change and that many small changes add up to a massive difference. On accepting that it isn’t all about us. That we aren’t worth it, if ‘it’ comes at the detriment of others. That we are just passing through for a very short time. That living with purpose and aiming to be our best selves in every moment is what life is really about.  Seeing ourselves as small stitches in a glorious tapestry of life on Earth, stretching back billions of years behind us and billions more into the future.  Our ancestors handed the world onto us and we will do the same. What state will it be in at the end of our watch?

This isn’t about saving the planet. Our Earth Mother will be fine without us. Different, maybe, but ultimately fine. It’s about saving ourselves. About reversing our destructive path. Finding ways to work in our own spheres of influence. To contribute. Accepting that we will grow old and die. Focusing on the joy in growing up and nurturing the next generation, rather than feeling sorry for ourselves as our personal flush of youth fades. Creating our own purpose and finding our own meaning, outside of what we are told is important.  Making the most of what we have. Becoming healthy and resilient. Taking time to stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds. Developing skills and relationships to prepare us for what is to come, whatever that may be.

So, as we figure out how to live in a world changed forever by Coronavirus, how will we respond?  I would like to think that we will take the opportunity to reflect, learn and build a new.  Take this moment to figure out how we can build a society that restores balance and wellbeing.  Take responsibility for living in ways keep us sane and makes the world a better place for all.  Learn to live on purpose to change the world from the inside out.

This is my quest. I would love for us to travel together.