There are many adages that urge change from within. Probably, the most memorable one is by Gandhi, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Although very attractive, I find problematic for a number of reasons.
First, it promotes individualism. These adages carry a notion that puts individuals at the center of the universe. In other words, YOU, the individual, are the world. Right there, personal interest took preference over the greater good.
Second, there is another implicit assumption that goes along with the adages that is even more problematic. “Change from within” carries the notion that it is the individual’s responsibility to be better persons. The implications are that when we see homeless people, we blame them for not being homeowners. We see drug addicts as individuals who have failed to be un-addicts (if that’s even a word). I cannot not mention two of Dave Gordon’s tips for healthy living, ‘don’t be poor,’ and ‘don’t have poor parents.’ You get the point!?
Poverty, drug addiction, homelessness and many other social issues went out the window, which is my third reason. The quotes make us insensitive to the world around us. As you – the center of the universe – matter, in contrast, the conditions around you does not. Instead of changing the world, change yourself! What about the social injustice that I see around? Should I do anything about it or not. Should I raise my voice when I see corruption?
I have seen people who have responded with “that is how it is” to child labor, poverty, social inequality, and violence. That’s how it should NOT be, my friend.
Let us say if you wish to change yourself, change your environment. Help change the social conditions in which you are born, grow up, live, work and age. Change your world, and you will be changed.
By the way, did you notice the beautiful background in the above picture? Now take a look at the picture below, and let me know what do you think.