It’s even easier to fall into the trap of believing you can’t change things. Things like child marriage have been going on for thousands of years. It’s difficult to see how you can change the beliefs that allow these things to go on. Meanwhile, here in North America the gap between the rich and the poor has been consistently growing for years. And let’s not forget about the rising tuition rates that are putting our youth in serious debt.
You probably already know about these things–and dozens of other societal problems I failed to mention–but believe you have little or no power to change them. And when you consider how hard my grandmother fought for women’s rights and then realize 1 in 3 North American women will still experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes, it’s easy to see how that belief was formed. It’s even understandable.
But it’s still bullshit. Worse, it’s bullshit that the people at the top want you to believe so you stay complacent while they screw us all over.
Here’s the thing. We actually have the power. The only reason most of these people have any wealth or power is because we gave it to them. We buy their products. We vote for our politicians. They have power because we let them.
Without us, they have no power. No wealth. Nothing.
The Power of a Person
As a human being, especially one who lives in an industrialized country, you already have a fair bit of power. You can choose to purchase eco-friendly products and fair trade coffee. You can choose to avoid Walmart and other big box stores that are killing small businesses and paying their workers unfair wages. You can actively reduce your waste, recycle and watch your language to make sure you’re not supporting oppressive structures.
With the internet it’s easy to do even more. You can sign up for a site like Care2 and regularly sign petitions designed to create change. You can go on to share these petitions and related news with your social media networks. Really challenging people to think about societal problems every single day is the first step towards getting others to help you create change. Email also makes it really easy to let your local politicians know what you think about important issues and what they’re doing wrong.
Of course, if you have extra time or money you can always choose to volunteer or donate to a non-profit you believe in. They can always use the extra help.
All of these things–along with voting for politicians who actually want to create change–make a difference, no matter how small it might be. Massive change will only happen when the masses actively move towards creating that change. It all starts with you.
And yet, as a writer, you can go far beyond these simple things to deepen your impact on the world.
The Power of a Writer
As writers, we have the ability to change the way people think. We can use our words to educate people, not just about the problems in society but also about the solutions. Thanks to the internet, we can even use our words to reach out to thousands of people all over the world–in just a few hours or even minutes.
More importantly, we can inspire other people to create change, in their lives and in the world at large.
Change–at least the kind of change that will move us towards a sustainable, equal future–must begin at ground level. To change society, first we must change our own ways of thinking, our own attitudes, our own behaviours. We must help others change their thought patterns and lifestyles as well. One person, even a hundred people changing their behaviour will not create the society we need to have. Only when thousands, millions come together and stand up for what they believe in will we truly see change.
Small groups and individuals have been fighting for years, decades even to bring us into a more equal and sustainable society. When you look at their accomplishments they seem massive, until you realize how much more there is to do.
We have reached the point where small groups are no longer enough. We need everyone to come forward and speak out against the issues that are keeping our society from becoming truly equal and sustainable.
As a writer, you can become an influential part of the solution. You can call companies and politicians out on their bullshit. You can expose scandals. You can write about the sheer number of oil spills each year. You can educate people about the factors that got our society to where it is today. You can spread the dark truths corporations and politicians want you to ignore so they can keep their power.
Or you can choose to profile people and organizations working hard to create change. You can profile companies that have worked hard to create eco-friendly offices. You can even contact these non-profits and help them out by updating their web content or writing their next brochure–and maybe even get paid for it. Or you can write about how other people can create change, can organize groups and create protests.
You can change the world. I would even go so far as to say that as a writer, as somebody who has been blessed with a talent for word smithing, it is your duty to create change. After all, how many other people really have the power to do what you can do with the gift you have been given?
Whatever your approach to change may be, it’s important that you try. Don’t be complacent anymore. We can only create an ideal future by working together.
How would you like to see the world change? What are you actually doing about it?