The Honesty and Courage of “system change”

Only those prepared to admit that we are fundamentally on the wrong course can help show the way to a different destination.

To proactively engage in change requires a reassessment of current motivations and norms. If the change has not occurred spontaneously up ’till now, it is because there are supporting mechanisms, rationales and motivations for the status quo.

Did you believe that late 20th Century mankind had reached a peak of civilization? That peace was upon the world, times were good and the economy was functioning properly? That democracy was producing quality leadership and decisions? That the economy was floating all boats? That a modicum of religious morality was a healthy guide? Because everything you see today is the result of those times, you might want to ask yourself how clearly you were seeing then and how clearly you can see now.

Change means admitting we were wrong. Until we can admit the flaws in what was driving us, we cannot have a different direction or a different destination. Reaching a different destination necessarily requires accepting that what has directed us thus far is flawed. If our politics is not representing us, if our economy is not serving us, if we are are destroying our environment, then we have to admit that the way we are doing things is not right. Our political system is not working well, our economy is not working for most people and our relationship with our environment is not working at all for our planet – which of our reasons for carrying on the way we are stands up in the face of these facts?

This is the honesty and courage at the heart of the ‘system change’ movement, to admit that we have not been getting it right. We cannot have a different outcome if we continue to harken after some golden age when what we are doing now was working, or if we continue to believe that we are basically on the right track and that a few simple adjustments will yield a different result. The courage to admit that we have got things wrong in a big way is the precursor to meaningful change.

Lets start with a short list of some the more obvious things we have been getting wrong.

  • Fundamentally wrong that top down is better than bottom up.
  • Fundamentally wrong that our society is a child of our economy.
  • Fundamentally wrong that religious morality is a decent foundation for law.
  • Fundamentally wrong that philanthropy is a replacement for taxes.
  • Fundamentally wrong that responsibility for long term profits motivates short term corporate decision making.
  • Fundamentally wrong that money is speech.
  • Fundamentally wrong that secrets are a good thing.

Only those prepared to admit that we are fundamentally on the wrong course can help show the way to a different destination. Beware the inside job, the man on the inside, the person in the know; for you are gambling with time, and time waits for no man.

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