"What are the effective ways for an individual to positively change society?"
Dear Questioner, The most effective mechanism for change is to BE the change you seek. To exemplify a positive, practical, functional, efficient, effective, and sensible solution, show rather than tell. Implement change by example. But that is not the all of it.
We also need to demonstrate why.
To communicate the why of change, we need to fully understand all the elements involved in societal change. The resistance, the investments, physical and psychological, the fears, the incentives. Mostly we have to prove via doing and being, that the change IS possible. This is the biggest obstacle.
Further, we have to understand the way the world mostly works, and how psychology responds to change. All the logic and reason in the world does not always lead to change. It has to be seen to be working, and more so, it has to be seen as “cool,” desirable, attractive etc. The ego needs to be dealt with. Yes, this is a sad reality, but for many, these and similar factors determine change. The entire fashion industry relies on this, and increasingly, this same mechanism brings about change via media, in all it’s forms.
Acceptance is a major factor. Change has to be seen as socially acceptable. We are reluctant to embrace change unless the motivations which are most important to us are present, and for most, these are motivations of how they appear to be, not necessarily how they actually are. Understanding this, is key. As is knowing that the adoption of superficial change can lead to actual change. If it is suddenly cool to be be seen to be kind and generous, this will lead to actual increases of kindness and generosity, no matter the actual motivations, but after some implementation, it would be hard to suddenly stop being so, the contrast would be too revealing.
Another factor influencing change, is mass acceptance, this is the hardest one to implement. Most tend to believe that something is true and valid of it has mass acceptance. We can use this mechanism via the Application of our own Being. If we display, and are that change we seek, and go about exhibiting our change as if it is no big deal, as an already accepted Way-of-Being, it by implication is seen as an already accepted Way-to-Be. In this we have to understand that Change, real Change, is often the result of a very few, of individuals, who have the strength of being to actually Be the change, and to be that change in a way that makes it an easily accepted fact. Nothing special, nothing extraordinary, just a fact of existence available to all.
If we can Be in a way that clearly shows the value and benefit, natural desire for improvement, or other sought after benefits, will take over. But we have to make sure our positive change is not thwarted by petty obstacles. No matter how good something is, if it makes people look foolish or silly, it will have a difficult time being accepted.
To implement change, we also have to understand leadership, and the responsibility that comes with it. We have to understand that most want to follow, because it is easier. When it comes to introducing Change, we have to take it upon ourselves to say what is good. This is an obstacle for many good people, as their innate modesty causes them to say: “But who am I to say what is good for others?” Here we need to understand it is not who says it, but what is said. If that what is substantiated, valid, justified, and especially if what is said is after the fact expression of what is already proved to be true, then it matters little, we are simply communicating truth.
Thus affecting effective positive social change is greatly helped by a thorough understanding of mass psychology and the psychology of motivation and learning. Most learning is actually just copying, and it is via this mechanism that Being the change can make the greatest difference.
Ask Biella is a Gateway Gazette Feature Column provided by a Contemporary Philosopher and Writer. The purpose and intent of this feature is to provide readers with an opportunity to ask a wide variety of life-based questions. Think "Dear Abby," but with more emphasis on life than just relationships.
Biella is an amalgam of two Beings - Contemporary Philosophers and Writers, who exercises glorious intellectual minds which are most admirable for their profundity and sharpness. Often offering multiple sides of an issue, and provoking self-introspection. Their aim is to uncover Appropriateness, Awareness, Attention, Application, Attunement, and more, with a unique, high-level understanding of the profound intricacies that interlace these concepts.
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