I believe that we can each change the world. I believe we can all change our lives, too. After all, it’s a DIY life. Here’s why.
We have to look at the details.
The real challenge of changing the world and changing our lives is to learn to see nuance and acknowledge subtleties in ourselves, in others and all the way around us. In a society that is constantly dumbing us down, we are all becoming increasingly polarized society within ourselves and with other people.
Its a DIY life because we have to look at the details. The systems that want to control us would like us only to look at big pictures and ignore the little things. They anesthetize us with sitcoms and reality tv, paint gigantic swaths of misinformation on the nightly news and internet, and bombard us with too many Facebook friends to actually care for any of them. Looking at the details leads us to caring for the little flower petal pictures made by young kids, hold hands with old relatives, and be kind to strangers on the streets. Little things matter, and living a DIY life teaches us that.
We have to see beyond black and white.
More and more, everyone seems to believe in A/B, either/or, black/white, us/them thinking through reductionism and isolationism. Anyone wants to make a decision for themselves or prove a point to others will just follow the formula taught to us by today’s media:
- Be dichotomous and show only two sides to the issue.
- Demonize people you disagree with and make sure they know how much you disagree with them.
- Point fingers and alienate others whenever possible.
We have to learn to see the colors beyond the outlines drawn for us by other people. It’s a DIY life because of the greys, blues, yellows and awesomeness all around us. We miss those in between areas when we rely on the world to paint our pictures for us. We can miss the in betweens, the both/ands, and the we/us thinking that is inherent in an interdependent world.
We have to hold out hope.
Great ideas routinely die in the hearts of brave and strong people because of this formula, at home, in businesses, across communities, throughout organizations and all around our society. Politics are rotten inside the Beltway, in state houses, and in city halls because of that thinking. Talk shows and the news are generally terrible because of it.
In each and every moment lies hope for the universe and eternity. This DIY life can teach each of us to let go when its time, and hold on when we’re supposed to. It embraces sustainability and eschews disposability by seeing more broadly than just this moment, this place, in this specific way. We have to hold out hope no matter what is going on in the world around us, and that hope won’t come from outside of us; it comes from within. The real hope is for you, and that’s why it’s a DIY life.
We have to accept responsibility.
For almost 20 years, I have taught people to see that we are all part of the problems AND the solutions in our world. We are all responsible for the status of the world today. Whether or not we’re conscious of it and accept it, we are ALL responsible for the world today and we ALL act on that regardless of our best intentions.
It’s DIY life because nobody else can effectively drawn a plan for your life that you have to follow. Your mind belongs only to YOU, and you are the ultimate person responsible for what goes into it and comes out of it. Accepting responsibility means owning up to your station in life, embracing it and moving forward boldly towards who I am and what I’m doing. My station in life isn’t complete, isn’t finished and doesn’t mean that I cannot change. Instead, its the opposite – it means that I’m unfinished, my life is a process, and this is a journey we’re on, not a destination.
We have to begin with ourselves.
Only after recognizing the subversive ways our own hearts and minds have been manipulated can anyone begin the work of dismantling the powerfully oppressive hegemony of injustice throughout our society. Only after recognizing our own fallibility can we challenge our culpability, and only after challenging our culpability can we call others to the carpet. Trying to do it before that makes us hypocritical at best. At worse, it makes us the worst offenders.
Learning to look within, be within and change within ourselves can be a scary, frustrating and obtuse process. That’s why it’s DIY! No human on Earth comes to their born day with a guide prepared to be implemented. Society constantly urges us to rely on large, impersonal engines designed to command and control our movements, actions and thoughts. Beginning with ourselves is the opposite of that; the rewards are boundless.
Then we have to change the world.
When we’ve confronted ourselves, then we can confront others. Then we can take action for social change. Then we can try to change the world. But it all goes back to what old Gandhi said: Be the change you wish to see in the world. It’s a DIY life because the world isn’t waiting for you to change it, and you cannot wait on the world to change. Instead, as you accept responsibility for yourself and lean into DIY, you’ll discover there’s an inevitability to engaging with the world around you and working to transform it, either accidentally or on purpose.
I have learned that we have to change the world because the world we see around us reflects the world within us. When we’re not satisfied with who we are, how we are we cannot be satisfied with the world and how it is. The converse is true, too: When we change ourselves, the world around us has to change because of that change within us. If it doesn’t change, we have to change it. That’s the nature of being human!
Live your DIY life as fully, wholly and meaningfully as you wish. Embrace it! And take action steadily knowing that you can be the change you want to see in the world!