Ways to Contribute to Social Transformation

social transformation

Social Transformation: The Great Turning

Our society is in the midst of a major historical transformation, often called the Great Turning. In this time of breakdown and transition, in this time of ferment and hope, you may feel concern, even passion and want to help, but you may not know what you can do.

This is because we have too narrow a view of what it means to contribute to social transformation. We tend to think that it has to be done through “political” channels—through canvassing, demonstrating, or writing letters, through working for candidates or activist groups. We think that our ordinary lives have little to do with social change. We can’t imagine other ways of aiding the transformation.

Limited Model of Social Change

This is a limited model of social change. If you want incremental change, you work for reform through established political channels. If you want large scale change, you organize and demonstrate as an activist. But we need whole-system transformation. It isn’t just certain governmental policies that need to change; it isn’t even just our political and economic system as a whole that needs to change, though it does. Far more than that is obsolete at this time. All our institutions and social structures must transform–our schools, our businesses, our gender roles, our ways of relating to each other, the way we treat our bodies and emotions, the way we relate to the natural
world, and ultimately our view of the nature of reality.

Social Change is Broad and Deep

Since the level of social change is broad and deep, the ways of contributing to change are many. The social structures and ways of being that are changing as part of the ferment of our times are highly interconnected, and everything we do in our lives contributes to and affects the larger direction of society. Everything we do that promotes a new, more appropriate way of being is a contribution to social change—from the way we relate to our kids to the products we buy, from the investments we make to the vacations we take, from the work we do to the way we care for your health, and much, much more.

How to Contribute to Social Transformation

We can contribute to social transformation by transforming our worldview and changing our lifestyle to one that promotes the new transformed society that is being born. We can contribute by helping to create healthy alternatives on a small scale—democratic organizations, inclusive communities, alternative monetary systems, technologies that are aligned with the earth, and many other possibilities. And of course, we can contribute by working to transform existing institutions.

Upcoming Seminar

This will be discussed in my upcoming seminar:How to Change the World without (Necessarily) Being an Activist, Tuesday, Sept. 27,4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern).

Zeroing in Gradually on Your Life Purpose

Life PurposeOver the years, I learned that one of the main functions I served as a life purpose coach was to help people move gradually toward their ideal career or life purpose.

Frequently people jump too fast into thinking about specific careers without carefully considering their deeper passion and purpose.

For example, Jean says that she really cares about community equity and development, so she starts thinking: Do I want to be a social worker, a social activist, a community organizer? She doesn’t want to be any of these things, so she decides that her life purpose can’t be about communities. Notice how she has jumped from a general direction for her life purpose—community equity and development—to specific careers without considering more carefully what she would really like to do, who she wants to help, and what issues she cares about.

Let’s take Jean back a step. Before she even considers specific jobs, let’s have her explore three major questions:

(1) What activities would she love to do in helping communities?

(2) What kinds of communities or people would she love to help?

(3) What impact would she love to have?

  • What kind of activities would Jean like to engage in to help communities? Does she like to network with lots of people, work with people one on one, work with a team? Does she like to convene meetings of people and help them learn to work with each other? Does she like to lobby people in power? Does she like to do research, give presentations, organize events, nurture fledgling organizations, etc.?
  • Who does Jean want to help? Communities in her local area, poor communities, communities of color, Third World communities? In those communities, who does she care deeply about–women, children, elderly people, youth, families, etc.?
  • Which community issues are important to Jean? Housing, crime, jobs, neighborhood spaces, economic opportunity, political empowerment, etc.

Jean may not feel strongly about all of these questions. She might say, “I really want to help empower community people by helping them work together in groups. As long as I am doing this, it doesn’t matter which communities or which issues.” Or she might say, “I care deeply about helping poor women with job opportunities, and I like doing a wide variety of different things. As long as I am helping with that, any activity is fine.”

So it is important to determine which of these three questions are important to you-which matter to your sense of passion and purpose. When you are clear on that, you can start thinking about specific career choices. With this clarity, you can ask more informed questions about various careers.

Most importantly, knowing what you care passionately about, you can be creative in finding a career that embodies it.

For example, Jean did this exploration and realized that she deeply cares about health and nutrition of children in poor communities. And she loves to write, interview people, and do public speaking. So she is considering careers in journalism, radio, or writing non-fiction books where she could educate people about problems and solutions with respects to children’s health.

If she had jumped too fast into thinking only about the obvious careers, she might have dismissed this whole area of concern.

 

 

Finding Your Life Purpose

Life PurposeAsk these questions about your Life Purpose. What is your life really all about? In addition to the natural pursuit of security, pleasure, love, and recognition, what is it that gives your life meaning?

In those times when the give and take of everyday life fade for a moment–in the middle of the night, in the sauna, walking alone in the woods, meditating–in those times when you think about deeper questions, what moves you? When you feel a need to be part of something larger than yourself, what calls to you? What is your particular gift to the world?

These are crucial questions for us all. Even if you’ve never thought about it, you operate out of some understanding of the meaning of your life. If you are approaching mid-life or if you’re in a time of crisis and transition, this issue may be just emerging into your consciousness. If you have reached the point in your psychological development where your basic needs are being met, you may find these broader questions becoming an important priority.

I define life purpose as a contribution to the world that uses your whole self fully and gives your life passion, fulfillment, and meaning through dedication to something larger than yourself. It might be work for social transformation; it might be service to people who are in need; it might be living from an attitude of love, or unleashing your creativity, or developing your highest spiritual potential.

I believe that everyone has a life purpose to be created or discovered. It seems clear that at a certain level of psychological development people need to identify and manifest this purpose. Being blocked in this area can lead to apathy, depression, despair, and a variety of other psychological symptoms. It can even lead to physical symptoms. And finding and fulfilling your life purpose can lead to pleasure and satisfaction of a depth that is unmatched by more self-oriented pursuits.

I have been interested in the question of Life Purpose for a long time. I have explored my own life purpose many times throughout my life, and finding it has been intensely rewarding. I used to offer Life Purpose Coaching, so I have lots of experience helping people discover theirs. I am especially interested in helping people to find their contribution to transforming society as an expression of their life purpose. I will soon be offering a webinar and teleseminars on this topic.