10 Ways to Reinvent Your World: My New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

Jan
13
2012
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
0
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Thank you all for the wonderful comments last week. Many people made fantastic suggestions for our community activism, including ideas for new Intention Experiments on the large corporations or banks. Others bemoaned the fact that we are passive because we’re all just shell-shocked on account of the abrupt and savage end to our comfortable way of life, or the sheer enormity of the tasks involved in fixing our world.

 

Tell this to 96-year-old Grace Boggs.

Grace is the quintessential story of how to make lemonade from lemons. A first generation American from Chinese immigrants, she went to college and then earned a Ph.D in philosophy at Bryn Mawr in th 1940s largely because the anti-Oriental prejudice of the time made it impossible for her to get a job.

 

Thank you all for the wonderful comments last week. Many people made fantastic suggestions for our community activism, including ideas for new Intention Experiments on the large corporations or banks. Others bemoaned the fact that we are passive because we’re all just shell-shocked on account of the abrupt and savage end to our comfortable way of life, or the sheer enormity of the tasks involved in fixing our world.

 

Tell this to 96-year-old Grace Boggs.

Grace is the quintessential story of how to make lemonade from lemons. A first generation American from Chinese immigrants, she went to college and then earned a Ph.D in philosophy at Bryn Mawr in th 1940s largely because the anti-Oriental prejudice of the time made it impossible for her to get a job.

When her gender denied her work in academia, a lowly job in the philosophy library of the University of Chicago afforded her the time and space to join the Workers Party, move to Detroit to work on a socialist workers newsletter and ultimately meet and marry her husband, a black auto worker and political activist in the more radical wing of the Civil Rights movement.

 

During their 40-year productive partnership, the Boggs worked together for radical social change on behalf of the marginalized members of America: non-whites, women and youth. Ultimately the two realized that the future lie in local community organization and renewal.

 

When Detroit was gutted after the recession spelled the end of the auto industry, Grace looked upon her adopted city not as a wasteland but a showcase for the world in how to continue to prosper and thrive when the old center no longer holds.

 

Consequently, she has spent years working on community projects and either had her hand in or influenced a large number, including the Detroit Agricultural Network, where disused lots have been used to plant food. She also set up Detroit Summer, to give young people of the area meaningful work, centered around such social concerns as the environment or positive teen self-image, when little paid work was available.

 

Grace spends every year of her life re-inventing herself: thinking a new way, writing (she’s just co-authored a book called The New American Revolution), speaking, consulting. Grace plans to use every last breath of hers to helping people imagine and re-invent themselves and their communities in a new way.

 

As she wrote recently, ‘Democracy is more than asking questions. It is certainly more than officials giving vague answers. Democracy includes the right to say no. Democracy requires the ability to make real decisions about our own future. It does not mean creating public relations campaigns to get people to agree to things they know are not in their own interests. It means the ability to direct resources for the common good.’

 

This is probably the most exciting time to be alive that I can ever think of, and I’m thrilled to have this frontrow seat to witness the overhaul of virtually every system we have created in our modern industrial world – a system that gave us riches beyond measure but at the expense of community, family life, free time and our environment.

 

However, as this historic and expectation-laden new year dawns, what is now required is that each of us move from our ringside seats, as passive observers, and throw our hats – and ourselves – into the ring.

 

Look upon this tough time as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent yourself. I guarantee that you will look upon this period of your life as one of the best times of your life, a pivotal moment that forever changed you for the better.

 

Here are my own 10 suggestions for 10 Ways to Reinvent Yourself and Your World. Transforming our world starts with transforming yourself and your communities. I look forward to hearing more ideas from you.

 

  1. Find new sources of news. The mainstream press is, in the main, owned by the corporate world and used as a vehicle to promote corporate interests. Note the fact that Rupert Murdoch paid Sarah Palin £7 million a year to front an anodyne TV show – a fact that remains unremarked upon by the press. Many ‘health’ columnists are in some way beholden to the pharmaceutical industry – one reason why there is virtually no coverage of anything but fluffy-bunny alternative medicine anymore. Journalists of the mainstream have very little latitude to keep a Fourth-Estate watch on the corporate or political world – or no longer know to. Stop reading the daily mainstream press. It can no longer be relied upon to tell you anything useful and will make it appear that life is more hopeless than it really is. Instead read The Huffington Post, even Yes! Magazine, and watch Positive TV and Aljazeera and other of the more independent outlets on the web. And don’t, for God’s sake, continue to read about celebrities.
  2. Radically redesign your finances. Remove your money from the multi-national banks and find a local bank or community savings-and-loan or building society.Look for an organization that is a cooperative (owned by its customers).That way, you will be supporting your local community, and a local bank will be able to support local jobs and local enterprise. Learn to get by on very little on credit. Chop up your credit cards or save them for emergencies. Change your priorities. The only thing you really need is food, shelter, love, meaningful work and free time. Be creative in learning how to live well for less.
  3. Get out of your car. Walk, cycle or use public transport whenever possible.My husband Bryan stopped driving to work and instead walked to work so he could give our dog Ollie a twice-day walk. Although Ollie has passed on, he gave Bryan the gift of the joys of walking. He hardly ever drives unless it is out of town and is more fit than he has ever been.
  4. Try to operate without money whenever possible. Learn to barter and use your incredible expertise or assets as currency. All of us have extraordinary resources and skill sets that we can ‘trade’ in order to pay for what we need without money. Post a noticeboard up at a local Wholefoods, Unity Church or public place, offering your skills (tutoring, painting, gardening, accounting, etc) in exchange for whatever it is that you’d like (a holiday away, food, gardening, etc).
  5. Help to build a bipartisan social movement. In order to change the way the political and social and economic system works, we have to join hands. This requires a critical mass of people working together. These usually start locally with people in local communities, who eventually connect with others. Check out the Center for Community Change and Change Nation. They have targeted five groups – the long-term unemployed, returning vets, victims of foreclosures, new graduates and public employees – as ripe for a connected social movement. These total 30 million people about 1 in 7 Americans.
  6. If you are out of work, look to create ne
    w business models locally: cooperatives, local currencies, community markets.
    Set your sites locally. What needs doing? What resources are lying fallow? Are there disused buildings that you can use for new business? What can you do that doesn’t require big start-up money? What is your skill set? Or the kind of work that makes your heart sing?
  7. Move beyond your virtual world. Take the time to get out from under your TV and computer and meet your community. Start by holding a small meeting in your living room. Meet with your neighborhood and community people and decide what needs doing. Just do it.
  8. Uncover the hidden connections between you and other people – whether in your faith, your locality, your citizenship, your sex, your local or national interests. Both Republicans and Democrats have many identical interests – a love of family, God, children, home, and country. All of us want to “fix” the economy, the roads, the government, the high price of gasoline, our educational system. Keep alert for ‘us and them’ thinking, language and actions. As soon as you start generalizing about one race or ethnic group of people – whether Republicans, Muslims, or even bankers – you have defined a group as ‘them.’ Expunge this kind of language from your vocabulary
  9. Use the power of local government. In America many local communities are ignoring Washington and setting down their own laws against corporate interference. Lately, they are even ignoring laws passed by the Supreme Court allowing corporations to pay unlimited sums to political candidates. Get involved on a local level.
  10. Trust in the power of the fair and the good. I was inspired the other idea when I was on the phone with a guy who runs a Corporate development program at very tight margins, making at best a few hundred per member. The entire idea of the project is a new form of cooperative capitalism that does not run on the ‘I Win-You Lose’ model of the West. People are encouraged to help others in the organization, based on a model of cooperation, integrity and service. Although the organization barely makes money on it, thousands of entrepreneurs rush to join and agree to give of their time as faculty for free without the ‘payback’ of selling their projects or skills. Nevertheless, among all the big guns in this corporate development arena, this company is one of the few in the black during these tough times.

 

Now what do you suggest to help reinvent each of us and our world?

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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