REAL CHANGE FOR INDIVIDUALS
By Roland Watson
In this article, I intend to cover how you, personally, can accomplish change in your life.
To begin, we need to accept that everyone, as an individual, is controlled by, or controls, dictatorial global systems. Therefore, for you to become the person that you want to be, and to allow others to be the people that they want to be, you are going to have to change, give up, or leave these global systems.
The first global system is family. The family is in fact the first natural institution, and this derives from the fact that we are social animals. As long as there have been people, there have been families.
But, a family is also a dictatorship, by the parents over the children. Indeed, many other forms of dictatorship try to justify themselves by comparing themselves to families, and with the dictators as the fathers.
The reason they make this fallacious comparison is because a family is in fact a justifiable dictatorship. Children do need to be controlled, at least in some ways. They need to be protected from danger, and they need to be educated, including through their forced attendance in schools, as a way to prepare them for adult life.
A basic phase transition in life is when children reach puberty and begin to struggle against the control of their parents. To accomplish the change to becoming mature adults, they need to break away and strike out on their own. This often causes problems in the families, as the parents resist giving up control.
Many families, though, are less than ideal, and some are openly dysfunctional. For the first, and for whatever reason, only one person may be caring for the children. For optimal childhood development, two adults sharing the parenting chores are better than one.
Or, even when there are two adults, they may fight a lot, so the children are not raised in a peaceful environment. This type of situation is known to have negative consequences for childhood development. In the worst families of all, the parents abuse the children, sometimes terribly.
As a child in such a family, the only real option is to escape. This is the only way to change the global system, by leaving it. While the best alternative is for the children to be cared for by relatives, or even by other loving families willing to take them in, in many cases these options aren't available. The children either suffer it out, or run away from home.
This is one of the worst global system change situations of all, because the people who need the change, the children, are least able to effect it. Societies therefore need to have systems in place to identify children who are at risk, and to provide an alternative nurturing environment.
Many societies do in fact have these types of support systems. However, regular news reports of abuse in them, and great numbers of runaways, not to mention - for some societies - large numbers of children begging on the streets, or rummaging at garbage dumps, shows that the issue is not given anywhere near the attention that it deserves.
The failure of a family is one example of a personal relationship that requires global change. There are many others.
Here, the most obvious example is with loving relationships between partners, and which are also failing. In this case, the choice is to end the relationship, or somehow alter it so that it works better.
In this article, I can't counsel you on your specific relationship problems. But, what I can say is that many of these are global system change situations. This means that the tactics of reform - small steps - will not be enough to fix what is wrong. If your partner is cheating on you, for instance, you will have to confront the problem head-on. It is naive to think that you can ignore it, and that it will go away.
As I also said in another article, in the human nature series, one of the unsatisfying facts of life is that you can't make someone love you. If you love someone, but he or she does not reciprocate, your only real option is to move on. Similarly, if someone falls out of love with you. The fact that you don't want the global change doesn't mean that you can prevent it. As we all know, life is regularly unfair.
In other types of relationships, as with friends, reform will work. You can nudge them in a better direction. You can sometimes even do this with love. You can continually take small steps to keep it on track. You therefore should make sure that you are romantic, and be imaginative in how you show your love.
Relationships with institutions
All of us further have relationships with different social institutions, including our employers, the government, and perhaps also a religion, meaning both the system of faith as well as the specific place of devotion. If you have a problem in any of these relationships, you need to determine if they can be altered subtly - that reform will work, or if stronger steps and a break are required.
The best overall policy is never to accept anything that is abusive, or where you feel noticeably uncomfortable. In these situations, reform will not be enough. Since it is exceedingly rare that a single person can change an entire institution, your only option is to leave.
The difficulty of leaving, though, can vary widely. While most of us can leave our jobs, for some people it will be easier to find replacements than for others.
For religions, the differences can be extreme. For example, for Christianity, it is at a minimum plausible, if not easy, to switch churches, if you are dissatisfied with your present one. You can of course also stop going to church, and for any reason at all.
For Islam, though, the problem can be much more profound. But here, I'm not talking about just changing mosques, but leaving the faith entirely. In countries that are dominated by Islam, renouncing the faith constitutes the crime of apostasy, which is punishable by death. If you are born to Muslim parents and live in Saudi Arabia, for instance, your options are not only limited, they may be nonexistent - if you can't leave the country.
What I've been trying to illustrate here, is that you need to identify and appraise the nature of your relationships with all social institutions. As part of this, you need to determine if you are having problems, and if they are global in nature or not: if they require real, fundamental change, or if small adjustments will be enough. Finally, in those cases where great change is required, you will need to develop a strategy, marshall allies such as your friends, and then summon the courage to do what you need to do.
When you are the dictator
The last area of real change to consider is for you, personally. What I mean by this is that you are also a global system, an independent entity. And, as an independent entity, you may be someone else's dictator, through being a parent, a boss, or even a religious leader.
This is the idea that I reviewed earlier, that you need to confront your own form. If you are in a position of control over other people, you need to be aware of this role, and your dominance.
Since you are reading this article, I will assume that you are a good person, and that you do not want to abuse your power. Your best option, therefore, is to work to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of those people over whom you have control, and not only focus on your own desires and aspirations. This way, you can avoid making their lives miserable, and not put them in the situation where they either have to oppose you, or leave.
My final point is that there is one other implication of being an independent entity. This is to recognize that in a sense, you are also the dictator over yourself.
What I want to focus on here are the behavioral patterns that you have, that you need - and hopefully want - to change. For example, a relationship may be failing because of your behavior, not the other person's. This means that the global change that is required is for you to change.
You need to break with who you are and become a new person, and leave the behavior behind. This way there is a chance that you can salvage the relationship.
For example, if you are the one who has been cheating, you need to not only decisively and forever stop cheating, you need to convince your partner that this is the case.
The relationship may still break, though, if he or she doesn't trust you, or can't get over what you have done. But, even if the relationship fails, you need to change anyway, so you don't ruin your next opportunity as well.
Self-dictatorship is also common with the many different types of addictions that people develop. Indeed, the need to end an addiction is one of the clearest illustrations of the idea that we are in fact talking about global system change. There is perhaps no clearer break than successfully ending an addiction. If you can do this, you should be able to accomplish any type of personal change in your life.
It is for this reason that I have a separate article devoted to addiction, in the series on Social Breakdown, in Part 2 of the website. I want to help you better understand your own addictions, and achieve the immensely satisfying goal of triumphing over them.
In the next article, I will examine the misconception that chaos is the same thing as violence.