Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Transformation this decade?

So we all know that one man's actions began a movement that led to the toppling of the Tunisian government. Mass protests, a public screaming out loud for change, for an end to old ways of thinking and doing things. Will this revolt turn into transformation? A better government, more responsive to the plight of it's people? Will real, responsible leadership actually take hold? Today, no one knows. Tomorrow, we can only hope. But, we can also create.

Protests followed in Algeria and Egypt, the Sudan and Lebanon, and now Yemen. This weekend Egyptian protests have intensified. There are rumblings throughout the Middle-East in light of Tunisia. Also, Iran is another country whose population has been suppressed and strangled with increasing fervor. What will happen there? How long before another crisis in Israel-Palestine explodes? How long before the Ivory Coast erupts into chaos and removes its stubborn leader? How long before the people of Zimbabwe stand up and sacrifice their lives to depose one of the most vicious tyrants of all time? Until the rural poor in China rise-up enough to challenge certain rules of an out-dated system of government? Before Pakistan becomes ungovernable? How long before America finally wakes up and decides to reinvent itself in the wake of its current problems? The list goes on and on.

Still, the presence of these crises, taking a positive viewpoint, shows that these questions are starting to be answered. Our global society is beginning to actively reinvent itself and challenge old ways of thinking.

I predict that this decade will be a decade of revolutions, some peaceful, some not. People are waking up (as suggested in the Middle East) and will demand that their struggles be heard by their governments, by the world. They will ask for real change and expect to get it.

Some talk of a new Cold War between China and the US. But I say that we're beyond these old ways of thinking at least where one country is pitted against another and everybody else is stuck in between. The globalized society that we live in today where technology and the internet brings us closer together has given a voice to many people for all to hear. It's not just going to be about superpowers, but about people this decade.

Today, the gap between rich and poor has widened. However, some say that that gap is actually decreasing (The Economist), precisely because of the boom in information technology and innovation. Others say the gap is decreasing because emerging economies are growing and helping their people out of poverty. This is without a doubt true, but it's not enough to explain the whole picture.

The gap between the "haves" and the "have nots," at its core, is a spiritual problem. It derives from a notion among us that in order for me to have something, someone else must not. Today, it is still very much survival of the fittest where only the strong survive. I believe that's changing though right before our eyes. And I believe it will change more this decade as global citizens declare that its ludicrous for a small percentage of the world's population to hold 80-90% of its resources. Enlightened leaders and common citizens will seek to change this.

There is a movement among us of social entrepreneurs, social businesses, and well-known philanthropists and foundations giving away their money in creative ways to better the world we live in. There is investment in innovation and research (while not enough in my opinion) and there are thousands of ideas-people who are starting grass-roots movements, sustainable companies, social enterprises, and the like. They are channeling advanced technology to do good. These efforts among us will generate future opportunity and jobs, new wealth, and they will alleviate suffering by giving people the tools to live in dignity, to be more connected to community and to the world.

Governments may not act quick enough to lessen the income gap and spur social change, but people sure will.

Our climate change/energy crisis is a real problem. Whether you believe in these things or not, something is changing on our planet. Actually, we're changing and as we change, the earth is correcting, adapting, and responding to us. With these visible changes also comes natural disasters in some cases and environmental dangers that challenge us. But future crises like these will bring people together, as they have done in the past, and force our society to consider new attitudes, new processes and ways of doing things, and will ignite a renewed altruism among people to dissolve of injustice, empower others, and to lift up those in need.

Thus, our environmental and energy crisis will provide new opportunities for environmental and energy renewal (it's already happening). It will provide opportunities for collective evolution and will inspire a new energy amongst us to care for the earth that sustains life on our planet. And our determination to save energy and protect our forests, to advance green technologies and investment and develop cleaner energy will only get stronger. I'm not the first to predict this obviously, you can read it everywhere if you look. I'm just reaffirming that I think it will intensify.

Health and Education will change too. The information age we're living in will make education and health-care more accessible and more inexpensive. People will learn to take better care of themselves while taking advantage of online visits to the doctor and psychiatrist. New government and private schemes will improve health-care while lowering costs and reducing the need for unnecessary visits to the hospital. Hospitals and care-facilities will change. Elders will stay in their homes and have purpose in their lives instead of losing that purpose in bureaucratic and expensive assisted living and nursing homes or institutions.

More governments will work together to improve early childhood education and innovative companies will expand education and innovation to all corners of the globe. Universities will increasingly build campuses over-seas. These projects will spurn innovation and increase accessibility to education for those that need it most. Institutions of higher-learning will also find creative ways to include lower income citizens in educational schemes and join up with non-profits/social enterprises to create cross-cultural connections, bringing new ideas and resources to and from the grass-roots.

Global education and global health-care will advance. People will power these changes. It's only natural.

Never has there been a time when possibility was so alive in the hearts of man and woman. More and more of the tools for change on our planet are within our reach. More people care, are informed, and are watching. It will be harder and harder for us to turn a blind eye to the glaring injustices and atrocities that are perpetrated upon innocent people. Harder to hear about and to see fellow citizens of humanity living in squalor, without food, a roof to live under, or the basic resources to lift themselves up. A more inter-connected world brings more inter-connected problems, and fortunately, in my opinion, it also gives us a chance to create inter-connected solutions and to build a better future.

So this decade will be about transformation. Individual and collective transformation. You say that transformation has always been and always will be. You're right. But, here and today, we are staring transformation in the face. Do we change? Or do we look the other way? I predict we'll change.

Start now, be the difference.

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