Thomas Jefferson, State Room Portrait, Charles Wilson Peale, public domain
By Richard Girard
"Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict."
Saul Alinsky (1909--72), U.S. radical activist. Rules for Radicals, "The Purpose" (1971).
"It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. . . . This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking."
Isaac Asimov (1920--92), Russian-born U.S. author. "My Own View" (published in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by Robert Holdstock, 1978; reprinted in Asimov on Science Fiction, 1981).
"We used to think that revolutions are the cause of change. Actually it is the other way around: change prepares the ground for revolution."
Eric Hoffer (1902--83), U.S. philosopher. The Temper of Our Time, "A Time of Juveniles" (1967).
The time for transformation is upon us. In fact, it has never left us.
The world can no longer survive holding on to a past in which power predominates over compassion, wealth takes precedence over love, and property is more important than people.
We have tried that way, over and over again, and it has led us to a world of poverty, discontent, and alienation, in both the material and spiritual sense. Our material possessions have proven to be at best a poor and transient substitute for our psychological need to be part of a greater whole, that accepts our individual self, and loves us in spite of ourselves.
We have been given a false dichotomy within our nation's political discourse, primarily by the greediest and most reactionary elements within our nation: a choice between individualism and collectivism, as if we must choose between either black or white, and cannot have both to sketch and shade our lives more fully. Making a choice of all one or the other leaves us with an impossibility; the utter inability to discern any actual picture of humanity's reality when the choice we are given is between the manifestly black or the solidly white; total individualism or the solely collectivist state. We must have ourselves for ourselves, but at the same time, we must understand and embrace our underlying need for the rest of humankind to be whole.
This canvas upon which we can draw the outlines of our lives, and then add shades and colors to suit ourselves and to create a portrait of our lives that is a consistent whole, is called community. It has existed since humanity first progressed from the family unit to the clan and then the tribe, and is the driving power behind both humanity's survival and its ongoing progress for more than 10,000 years.
It is not I alone who say this. Charles Darwin made it the central theme of his book The Descent of Man , and Pyotr Kropotkin made it central to his magnum opus, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (See my July 2, 2012 OpEdNews article " Aiding the Evolution ," for more on this subject). It is also one of the themes of the Book of Genesis, as Abraham's family eventually evolves into the Twelve Tribes of Jacob's sons, creating what will become known as the Israelites or Hebrews. It is even part of the story of the Greeks in Hesiod's Theogony , as well as Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, and the Romans in Virgil's Aeneid.