Today is World Blog Action Day.
Thousands of bloggers around the world will be writing posts for their blogs on a central theme, with the intention of raising awareness and triggering discussion. Following on from previous year’s themes of poverty, climate change, water and food, this year the theme is the slightly less obvious ‘The Power of We’.
What the organisers have in mind with this title, is the ability of collective action and community empowerment to make a difference. That together we can do more, than we can alone. That as a whole we are greater than the sum of our parts.
Of course there’s no surprises here – we already know this.
The anthropologist Margaret Mead is famously quoted as saying:
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
I’d imagine most of us are members of some kind of group or other, whether formal or informal, professional or social – clubs, groups, bands, churches, teams, unions, parties, mailing lists, newsgroups or even secret societies. There’s something reassuring about knowing it’s not just you. There’s encouragement to be gained from others. There’s knowledge to be passed on. There’s tasks to be delegated and shared. There are different skills to be employed. Most importantly of all (and in the words of Winnie the Pooh) “It’s just more friendly when there’s more than one”.
There are no shortage of organisations and campaigns to join – whatever issues you feel passionate about there’s almost certainly a group out there already, fighting the good fight.
Paul Hawken wrote about the myriad of these, often small, activist groupings, working for social and environmental change in his book The Blessed Unrest, which, in the words of Christian environmentalist Bill McKibben, documents ‘the incredible numbers of people around the world filled with love for their neighbours and for the Earth, who are busy resisting, remaking, restoring, renewing and revitalizing’.
We should join these groups, get connected, engage on-line, take action, get involved, do all kinds of good stuff – get the badge, wear the T-shirt.
But we should also be careful.
Careful to put first things first.
Sometimes, when we become part of something bigger, we can forget that change has to start with ourselves.
Being a member of Greenpeace doesn’t then entitle us to buy a bigger car, and posting to Facebook about saving the arctic from oil exploration might seem a little empty if we then add the photos from our latest long-haul holiday to Mauritius beneath.
Joining something isn’t always the same as doing something. We have to ‘be the change’ as well.
We have to care enough not just to want to come together to bring change to the system and the world – but also enough to change our own lives.
Which as we all know, is often much harder.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
The Lorax (by Dr Seuss)
Photo by Ritterskamp, via Flickr