Not Waiting For The World To Change

First published on April 2013

A couple of my friends commented recently on the negative content of much of my writing; one of them in particular found it all rather depressing. I’d have to agree with them that much of what I write about is bad news and it is indeed depressing at times.

However, this negativity is not without reason. The purpose of all this negativity is to facilitate the ‘scales falling from my eyes’ moment in the vast majority of people who are sleep walking through life. Yes, you could accuse me of being arrogant in thinking that I can wake people up to the realities of human existence. I would not be so bold as to suggest that I have the answers, although I think (like many other writers), that I must try to highlight the facts that we are frequently lied to and also that in so many areas of life the truth is hidden from us.

Deception and manipulation of the truth to control people’s lives is hardly a new thing – the well-known expression ‘bread and circuses’ aptly describes the manipulation game played by the rulers of ancient Rome some two thousand or so years ago.  In the late middle-ages Niccolo Machiavelli’s dark and cynical masterpiece on achieving and maintaining power (The Prince) became a great and perennial success. It remains a widely read book to this day – a dastardly instruction manual, if you will, for the political and financial elites of any era!

Such cynical underhandedness amongst our governments and social institutions is hard to accept, it’s so horrific that it is in fact much easier to turn one’s face away from it in disbelief. Unfortunately, such actions do not change the fact that the very bedrock of Western society is rife with corruption – so much so that often there is not even a cursory attempt to hide it. The average person appears to be so stupefied by the sugar-coated drivel that the public is constantly bombarded with that there is little need for more than the most superficial deceit in most cases. People are too lazy to look under the surface or they just do not want to look – preferring to believe the mind-numbing illusions that are conjured up for their enjoyment.

That is why in the same breath people complaining about the war in Afghanistan take a sip of cola and move on to wondering who their favourite celeb is sleeping with this week. Gosh, I sound so cynical myself, and yes I am! However, I don’t blame the ordinary individual for being unable to withstand the ceaseless barrage of nonsense that ends up dominating their thoughts. That is the fault of the system – a system of control that has been refined and improved over many, many centuries.

So then, what is the answer? Where am I going with all this? To my mind, Mohandas Ghandi had the right ideas, nearly a century ago –
"don’t wait for change, make it happen!
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
“I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could.”
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Ghandi’s seemingly novel, non-violent form of non-compliance inspired his countrymen and sowed the seeds of the destruction of the world’s largest empire. Shocking as his achievements are, it is even more shocking that in a few short decades most of us seem to have forgotten the lessons of his life and work. However an awakening is in progress, recognition of the state we are in has increased, as has both violent and non-violent resistance. Non-compliance is a tide that is rising once again across the globe, although the simple clarity of vision that Ghandi achieved appears to be missing.

Ghandi did not live in an age of instant mass communication person-to-person, he relied on the press and his followers to a large extent, yet he managed to achieve an astounding change in a few years. In the current climate there appears to be almost open hostilities between ‘the system’ and those that are greatly dissatisfied with living in it. We have long since passed the ‘laughing’ stage that Ghandi spoke of and moved into the early stages of ‘fighting’. However, like so many previous attempts to ferment change, it will fail unless a massive proportion of the public is prepared to make its disapproval known and begin taking concrete steps to resist.

Most of us are critical of the society we live in, not least of all our governments, but until we wake up to the need to be pro-active there is no possibility of things changing for the better. So if I come across as somewhat negative, in my attempts to stimulate a reaction in the aspartame-addled brain cells of the somnambulists out there, I offer no apology. I will though, offer another brief quotation for consideration, from the 18th century Irish philosopher and politician Edmund Burke -  “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

How true that statement still is - one that our rulers rely on remaining true, and while that inertia remains the status quo will remain also.