The right question?
After reading this great article by Bill McKibben, writer and founder of the action group 350.org, I realized that Surebuthow’s most important question had to be rephrased. McKibben argues that since climate change – and perhaps the same can be said about populism – has reached such a critical state, individual actions don’t matter (any more).
30 years ago he thought it was still possible to adjust his own life, and make a tiny difference with small changes in the personal sphere. These turned out to be ineffective, however.The system must be changed before an individual can change within the system. After all, an individual on his or her own can’t make an enormous impact; there will always be 10 laggards for every pioneer. McKibben’s solution: rephrase the question into “How can we make a difference?”
The biggest impact an individual can make is to join a movement, to organise and invest in something that transcends their individual powers. The whole is bigger than the sum of it parts.
Connected and organized individuals have power. Look at the Green Left party in the Netherlands, for example; they seized a record number of seats in parliament because of an enormous growth in awareness regarding climate change. Partially, it was their own doing; they have re-invented themselves as a broad progressive movement, rather than a stagnant political party.
If you want to make a difference, try to find connection with others. It’s only possible to make a lasting difference with a collective.