By Rivera Sun
[Editor’s note: The Man from the North is a fictional character from Rivera Sun’s first series of novels. She has him offering essays beyond her novels.]
The time is up. The time is now. Gather the people to do the work: the healing, transformative, deepening work of building community, solutions, understanding, skills, knowledge, and hope. You must be the one to make a change, to step out of the rutted tracks of the looming train wreck that is our culture. You must have the courage to walk into the wilderness of what you don’t know and embrace the solutions that will save our lives.
All quests and hero’s journeys begin with this: the yearning for change; the hope of saving graces; the long shot of wished-for miracles. In each of us, our willingness to make a change begins with equal measures of fear, courage, and purpose rolled into an electric jolt to the soul . . . a spark that launches you toward danger and potential.
Our world will be saved by billions of ordinary heroes and sheroes who decide to do hundreds of humble and extraordinary actions. Hour by hour, minute by minute, we change our world by withdrawing our support, cooperation, and participation from old destructive systems. By making these shifts, we starve the monster we have become. We share with neighbors to dismantle consumer-capitalism. We gather to tell stories and unplug the corporate media. We build solar panels and shut off the switches of fossil fuels. One small action multiplied by millions of people adds up quickly to massive change. One small action done strategically by a small group of people can catalyze a hundred million more.
Change requires that we live differently. All of us must make changes: from the most committed activist who knows she must reconnect to her heart; to the average citizen who suspects he could be doing more; to the terrified investors in fossil fuels who must choose between their industry and their planet; and everyone in between. Real change is never handed to us on a silver platter, nor served by powerful people. When suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton wanted to vote, she strode into the polling place and cast her ballot. When Rosa Parks wanted to desegregate the Montgomery buses, she sat down and refused to give up her seat. When tribes among the Anishinaabe wanted to use their promised treaty rights, they walked on to the land to hunt, fish, and gather traditional foods and medicines.
All of them faced violence, danger, arrest, and even death threats. All of them organized, mobilized, struggled, and ultimately prevailed. None of them sat on the couch waiting for the right people to be put into the right offices to do the right thing. Deep, meaningful change is not handed to us. We wrest it out of the unknown and bring it into existence in our lives.
As Thomas Paine wrote, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again.” Our actions, day in and day out, shape this ever-evolving world. We are the potter’s hands forming the wet clay vessels of our existence. We are the weavers at the loom, casting the threads of our lives through the wool of the world. We are the stone cutter with chisel and hammer, chipping away at the hard realities that block our forward progress. With such power to shape our world comes the responsibility to wield our lives with intention and skill.
If you want change, live differently. But remember, you alone are not enough. One of our changes is that we must work together. We must reach out from our isolated lives. We must join hands with millions and take collective steps toward the future. You cannot go on a hero’s journey alone. Not this time. You must ask others – many others, millions of others – to change their lives, too. Ask your family, friends, and colleagues. Use outreach and organizing tools to ask your neighbors, faith communities, and co-workers. Put nonviolent action to work to compel our society to adopt a change for justice. Mobilize to demand that institutions and industries shift their massive resources into systems that are just, fair, sustainably, and non-harming. In this way, our ordinary actions – multiplied by millions – add up to extraordinary change.
Do not wait another minute to change your life. The time is up. The time is now.