Sam Cooke sang, "Change is gonna come." Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see," and Warhol wrote, "They say times change, but you actually have to change them yourself."
So, I asked myself, what would change look like?
It's easy to say "world peace" or "an end to hunger" or things like that, and I want those things as much as the next idealist, but I want to approach it from a practical standpoint, with specific ideas.
We are in polarized times, with such aggression and so much contempt displayed for people of contrasting or opposing viewpoints. So, the first thing I would like to see change, when it comes to politics, is elimination of the party system.
I think we're killing real discourse and a true exchange of ideas by identifying so strongly with the names of the political parties.
I'd like someone to say, "I want to protect the environment and save the planet," without being immediately thought of as a liberal Democrat, and by the same token, for someone to be able to say "I want to lower taxes," without being branded a conservative Republican.
I want a political climate where a person can be in favor of criminalizing abortion without being attacked as a crackpot religious fanatic, and likewise someone should be able to talk about the disparity in wealth without being accused of waging class warfare.
The next real change that came to my mind has to do with a belief that seems embedded in modern, first-world countries and cultures that convenience is a noble aim. This compulsion to try to make things ever easier compels people to look for short-cuts and easy ways out, and the things we do toward this end have had dire consequences on our health and the planet's.
We dump chemicals and other industrial waste into the environment because it's quicker, easier and less expensive than finding ways to intelligently dispose of and process those waste products. We spray fields with carcinogenic pesticides and fertilizers so we can increase crop yields while decreasing how much time and money it requires, all the while disregarding what it does it cost us in terms of health.
Same with the chemicals and preservatives we put in processed foods, and the microwave ovens we use to cook these foods. This push toward convenience also leads to egregious practices such as the clear-cutting of forests, and the use of anabolic steroids.
We need a full-on educational effort, complete with rewards and punishments, to teach and reinforce the idea of the true value of work and effort.
There are some who say the only thing, really, we can change or have control over is ourself - our actions and reactions, our thoughts and words and deeds.
So, before I further regard change in the world, I turn it back on myself and consider change from a personal perspective. For me, that's being more present in the present, worrying a little less about what could happen if I do this or don't do that, and instead just digging the day a little more. In other words, maybe a little less time and energy spent playing a proverbial chess match and a little more time shooting hoops out on the driveway.
One other real change for me - and this may sound like I'm trying to be funny, but I'm serious - is to stop putting off the beautification, peace-ification and organization of my home, and instead of waiting for company to come over, clean things up on many levels now.
Those are the changes I would like to see and be and make happen. What about you?
Ron Colone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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