Opinion

Essay: Change

Rylee Tan | The Loyola PhoenixAn investigation into the mechanisms of social change, and our part in it as individuals. How can we let love guide our conscience when actions are governed by the social collective?

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In a world that makes it easy to feel small, how can the individual produce change? And even further, why should they?

The first step in becoming an instrument of change is realizing that you are more than a mere interaction with the universe — you are a part of it. The second step is adjusting your relations with the world around you in accordance with this notion — to become an intentional agent of revolution in a world governed by collective action. 

The question then naturally arises; how does the individual enact revolution? 

First, we must realize that our lifestyles are presently sustained to entrench us deeper in the systems of oppression which marginalize both ourselves and those around us. We must enact a transformation in our relationship with the world in order to further the general welfare of humankind.

How have the actions you’ve performed today benefitted the world? How have they harmed it? Have you been shopping from anywhere that uses prison labor lately? How about sweatshops? 

When we consider the extensive degree to which we affect the world around us it can put a lot of pressure on us – it can feel like no matter what we do we are only inching ourselves towards an inevitable negative consequence.

The gravity of this premonition is alleviated only by the fact that changing our relationship with the world is an act of love. And thus the degree of change we exert on our relationship with the world is a measure of the love we hold for it. Ask yourself, are your actions a reflection of the love you have for the world? Is what you’re doing an accurate indication of the hope you have for our future, for the improvement you’d like to bring to the generations ahead? If not, I urge you to make it so; to manifest the beauty, joy and love in this universe into tangible action for the betterment of our planet. 

How then is the individual change translated into a wider scale?

I think of a traffic jam. A conundrum in whose perpetrator is the victim. I will defer my explanation to the popular illustration of any cascade: much in the same way that no single raindrop feels responsible for a flood, so it is that no individual will feel the weight of their responsibility for causing traffic. By living our lives as we normally do we are causing traffic not only for ourselves but for those around us. 

So how then, do we break out of the jam? 

Should we continue as normal, letting it melt into our peripherals until it no longer affects us personally? No. Rather, we should defy the conventions which restrain us from progress – to speak quite radically, we ought to start driving on the shoulder. To throw away the customs which have oppressed us, to utilize the full weight of our collective capacity, to remove our actions from isolation and become models of headway. To turn from the unconscious flood of the raindrop and look instead to the intentional power of our tears. 

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Aslan Mutuwa is sophomore Communications and Global & International Studies major at Loyola.

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