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What are we intending to change with the social change?

Sitting on the train from San Francisco to Seattle, I am still digesting the amount of despair and hopelessness that I was witnessing on the streets of San Francisco during the last few days, while passing by truly immense numbers of homeless, poor, devastated people and observing what seemed to me like signs of a collapsing society. It all seemed pretty post-apocalyptic at times. And it reinforced my impression of the urgency of radical social change, otherwise there soon might not be any society left to change.

And, when thinking of the urgency of a radical transformation of a paradigm that we humans have been operating within for thousands of years, I often feel sad and even disheartened, witnessing the very pioneers of change themselves using the same vocabulary and mindset that seem to have gotten us here: us vs them. The same paradigm of us, who are right and them, who are wrong, Us, who know, and them, who don’t. Us, who are innocent victim of them, who are to blame. Of us who need to change them, make them understand, perhaps even punish them, because they don’t deserve better.

I don’t believe we are really changing anything, when operating within this old mindset. Even more, we might be just happily reinforcing the old disconnecting paradigm even deeper. Now, of course we want to care for people in need, and for the environment, and for the whole planet, yet if we do it without compassion for the humanness in everybody and for everybody’s wounds and scars and fears and longings, we might not be really dismantling the weapons that got us here, if I paraphrase Joana Macy.

In my understanding it is really not about the good winning over the bad, nor about the ones who are right winning over those who are wrong, but about healing all of us. All of us. It is about transforming the way we meet ourselves, each other and the world. It might be about radically reinventing ourselves, so that we can embrace each other in compassion, while standing tall with all the fierceness we can gather to protect Life.

Yes, fierceness and compassion, both together. One without the other may not be enough for the shift to happen.