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Social Change: Walking the Walk

Social Change:  Walking the Walk

Yesterday, I read this quote from Joseph Campbell in Elephant Journal:

“The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth.  No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.”

It reminded me of an old parable I’ve heard many times.  A young man wants to create change, so he sets out to change the world.  After a few years, he finds he has made little progress, so he focuses on changing his country.  By the time he is middle-aged, he realizes he must first change his town.  And by the time he is an old man, he realizes that he must first focus on changing himself.

For those of us who are progressives and activists, it is important to remember this.  We should, I believe, try to change the world.  We should set our sights high and not settle for social and political structures that do not serve us.  But we must first walk the walk.  If you are opposed to corporate food systems, shop at farmers’ markets or local grocery stores whenever possible.  If you are angry about banking practices, move your money to a credit union.

I know I do not always succeed in doing this, but it is something I am working on, and something I am very aware of.  None of us is perfect, but if we truly want to change social structures – and we certainly should strive to do just that – it is important to try to live according to the values we hope to promote.


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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


+ add your own
7:49AM PST on Jan 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

8:29AM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Thanks for the info.

7:56AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Ahh-the old inside-out approach--the only one that works.

3:53PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

It all starts with ourselves. Not in a selfish way. Just what we believe and practice. Because that is what we throw out to our family, our community, to the world.

4:14AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

With all due respect, Corinne W. - I am sure that some people will follow good example. Some will follow yours and hopefully - others will follow mine. What I am reacting to in my previous post is Glenwilles' closing words: " ... if the whole world does it, the world will be a better place for all."

The whole world? - Please ...! His whole home town never will. He will be very lucky if his whole family will. Let us avoid hyperboles and keep our feet firmly on the ground.

8:49AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

you only can do what you can!

7:53AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

Thanks for including this great article; I've forwarded it to friends, and received positive response. And to Milan L. I believe others DO take note and, if just one other person re-thinks how they live, be glad that you "walk the walk".

6:16AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

It is important to live your life the way you want to live it right now, not just try to make other people do it.

12:37PM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

Us people ALREADY "walk the walk", it does absolutely no good, when the other 99% are stuffing their faces with readily available lard, high fructose syrup, empty carbs and endless
floor to ceiling shelves of junk food. The average poor person is told to "seek out organic
food" and if they can even find it or somehow get to it, causes them to take out a loan just
to buy it. It's a ridiculous catch 22. Poor people are blamed for being OBESE and then given practically no choice by Big Ag who gives them only poisoned junk food to eat. Another thing, people don't change "habits" easily. Once they "like" junk food they tend to
continue to eat junk food. Our government is NOT behind a healthy America, I think we are all DOOMED.

7:36AM PDT on Apr 15, 2012


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