Sunday, August 17, 2014

‘We Have It in Our Power to Begin the World Over Again’

If we’re not satisfied with things the way they are, if we’re concerned how we are governed and the decline of our freedoms, if we truly want to change things, then, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi and so many who have gone before us, who all essentially have sent the same message, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.’

It means, “… [an] awareness that one person, alone, can’t change anything, an awareness that unjust authority can be overturned only by great numbers of people working together with discipline and persistence.”

The message resonates once it’s understood that it’s the takeaway message of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense", in which he wrote, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

It was also the message of some of our country’s most notable leaders. For instance, here are three. President Ronald Reagan: "For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies." President Barack Obama: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." And, in the familiar words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Those words are as significant today as they were in 1776. Now as then, they convey that a better America and world can only happen through the actions of people, not government, and for change to occur it requires new ways of thinking.

That new way of thinking involves getting ridding our thoughts of why we cannot, and developing thoughts of ways to figure out how we can. For sure, individually we cannot take actions that will affect national and international events. However, collectively our actions, words, and ideas can change the world. But it first starts with the notion that we can.

Robert F. Kennedy once said, "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

Change only happens when we ask ourselves “why not,” not by saying we cannot. It’s the only way to bring about change.

And, last but certainly not least, that same message comes from Noam Chomsky, who says, “if you act like there is no possibility of change for the better, you guarantee that there will be no change for the better. The choice is ours, the choice is yours.”

(A version of this article was first published on the Yahoo Contributors Network on June 27, 2011)

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green